Outbreak Alert: McDonald’s Salads Infected With Cyclospora Parasite

The FDA and the CDC – along with state and local officials – are investigating a multi-state outbreak of cyclosporiasis illness linked to salads from McDonald’s restaurants.

So far, the reported number of people sickened by the tainted salads is 163 in 10 states. Three of the victims have been hospitalized.

In a statement about the outbreak published on July 13 and updated today, McDonald’s reported that the company proactively decided to remove the lettuce blend in impacted restaurants and replace it through a different supplier:

We have removed existing lettuce blend from identified restaurants and distribution centers – which includes approximately 3,000 of our U.S. restaurants primarily located in the Midwest. Of the 3,000 restaurants, at least one is located in the following states: IL, IA, IN, WI, MI, OH, MN, NE, SD, MT, ND, KY, WV, and MO.

USA Today reported that McDonald’s stated the offending lettuce was provided by a Fresh Express facility in Streamwood, Illinois.

Cyclospora cayetanensis is a microscopic parasite of humans. This parasite, when it contaminates food or water and is then ingested, can cause an intestinal illness called cyclosporiasis. It is rarely transmitted from person to person.

The FDA is recommending that people who have symptoms of cyclosporiasis contact their healthcare provider to report the infection and receive medical care.

Symptoms of Cyclospora infection include:

  • diarrhea, with frequent and sometimes explosive bowel movements
  • loss of appetite
  • weight loss
  • stomach cramps and/or pain
  • bloating and gas
  • nausea
  • fatigue
  • vomiting
  • headache
  • bodyaches
  • fever

Some people who are infected with Cyclospora do not have any symptoms.

Symptoms may seem to go away and then return one or more times (relapse), reports the FDA.

Diagnosis is done via examination of stool samples, but can be difficult because even patients who are symptomatic might not shed enough oocysts in their stool to be detectable by laboratory testing.

Most people who have healthy immune systems will recover without treatment, but the illness may last from a few days to a month or longer. Treatment for Cyclospora infection usually includes the antibiotic trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole (brand names are Bactrim, Septra, and Cotrim).

According to the CDC, no highly effective alternative antibiotic regimen has been identified yet for patients who do not respond to the standard treatment or have a sulfa allergy.”

For more on lettuce and leafy green food poisoning outbreaks and how to prevent infection, please see Food Scare: Are Pre-Washed Salad Greens Worth the Risk?

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Contributed by Lily Dane of The Daily Sheeple.

Lily Dane is a staff writer for The Daily Sheeple. Her goal is to help people to “Wake the Flock Up!”

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