Parasite in foods cause dangerous intestinal illness - KAIT Jonesboro, AR - Region 8 News, weather, sports

Parasite in foods cause dangerous intestinal illness

This photo of a stool sample shows four of the cyclospora parasites that cause the disease. (Source: CDC) This photo of a stool sample shows four of the cyclospora parasites that cause the disease. (Source: CDC)

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - A recent outbreak of a dangerous intestinal illness found in fruits and vegetables has a lot of people alarmed.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, this illness has popped up in 9 states over the past 2 months causing over 275 infection cases. The illness is caused by a parasite called cyclospora found in fruits and vegetables.

They next time you go shopping for fruits or vegetables you might want to pay attention to the label.

 "You always want to be cautious about where things are grown and where they come from, especially when it's in surrounding states and could move into Arkansas," said Dr. Shane Speights with St. Bernards Hospital.  

Health officials are investigating the outbreak of a dangerous intestinal illness caused by a parasite found in fruits and vegetables imported from other countries.  

"This is something that you're probably going to get by some sort of fruit or vegetable that haven't been cleaned or have come from certain areas of the world causing diarrhea, abdominal pain, cramping, fatigue, that sort of thing," Speights said.

He said washing fruits and vegetables can decrease the chances of being infected with bacteria but parasites are a different story.

"Parasites can be hardier, they actually will grow within spores and those can actually live for a long time on fruits, vegetables and things like that," Speights said.

The Food and Drug Administration is investigating the infections, which have been linked to imported fresh produce. The CDC has been notified of 285 cases in 9 states where at least 18 people have been hospitalized. Officials don't know if one particular fruit or vegetable is causing this outbreak.

"This is not something that's gonna be passed from human to human readily," Speights said. "Luckily we have not seen any outbreaks in the state of Arkansas to date, it will continue to be monitored by the CDC.

According to the CDC, it takes about 1 week after becoming infected before you start to feel sick.

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