Adding Injury to Insult: As COVID Cases Continue to Rise, Cyclospora Outbreak Continues to Ravage Midwest Causing 509 Reported Illnesses

    E. coli Outbreaks 2018
    E. coli Outbreaks 2018-2019

    Cyclospora Outbreak Continues to Ravage Midwest Causing 509 Reported Illnesses

                Eight states are facing 509 reported illnesses caused by a Cyclospora contamination of producer Fresh Express of Streamwood, Illinois, bagged salad products containing iceberg lettuce, carrots, and red cabbage. After previously recalling bagged salad products from brands Fresh Express, Hy-Vee, Little Salad Bar, Signature Farms, and Marketplace, Fresh Express issued an all encompassing recall out of an abundance of caution on 91 different products containing or possibly contaminated with iceberg lettuce, red cabbage, and carrots, the ingredients thought to be causing the Cyclospora outbreak.

    Cases of cyclosporiasis were first reported on May 11, 2020, and most recently reported on July 01, 2020, with a total of 509 cases, 33 hospitalizations, and zero deaths, effecting 8 states in total: IA (160), IL (151), KS (5), MN (63), MO (46), NE (48), ND (6), and WI (30).

    Canada is also facing the Cyclospora outbreak, with 37 reported cases in 3 provinces: Ontario (26), Quebec (10) and Newfoundland and Labrador (1). These cases have been confirmed as a product of the Fresh Express Cyclospora contamination and thus, the FDA, CDC, Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), and the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) are working together to complete this investigation. Ron Simon and Associates previously filed the first lawsuit against Fresh Express and Jewel-Osco for the Cyclospora outbreak, having since filed several lawsuits and predict more cases to be filed with increased case numbers.

                A previous Cyclospora outbreak occurred in September of 2019, during which fresh basil from Mexico was contaminated with Cyclospora and infected 241 people, with 6 people requiring hospitalizations, and zero deaths. The cases began on June 10, 2019, and the last case was reported on July 26, 2019, meaning that the outbreak lasted an approximate 47 days from onset. The current Cyclospora outbreak is more substantial; it is still ongoing, with more people having been infected with the parasite and it is taking much longer to bring the outbreak to a close. This can in part be attributed to COVID-19: both food producers and food safety organizations have had much difficulty adjusting to life during the pandemic, ultimately making it difficult to investigate this Cyclospora outbreak and put an end to it.


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