Four Restaurants Linked to Minnesota Cyclospora Outbreak
More than 30 states have been impacted by a recent Minnesota Cyclospora Outbreak. The microscopic parasite known as Cyclospora, which invades the intestinal tract of those infected, has been introduced through consumption of contaminated foods. Of the hundreds of cases reported to public health officials most do not have a definitive source. However, in some cases, as in a cluster having surfaced in Minnesota, basil imported in from Mexico is the culprit. In all, thirty-five Minnesotans have been diagnosed with Cyclospora after having ingesting this particular basil import at a handful of Minnesota restaurants and/or catered events.
The Minnesota Cyclospora Outbreak establishments, with reported cases of Cyclospora, are located in Rochester, Duluth and Hermantown. None of the illnesses, surfacing in middle to late June, resulted in hospitalizations. Other cases, in other states, did however. Persons contracting this parasitic infection can take a week or multiple weeks to become symptomatic. This delay can often make sourcing of outbreak problematic. However, in this cluster, the common ingredient was easy to identify. All four restaurants confirmed use of this basil from the distributor located in Morelas, Mexico, identified as Siga Logistics de RL de CV. Because the parasite contaminating the basil leaves cannot be washed off during kitchen preparations, the restaurants could not have avoided this contamination.
Those restaurants involved in this Minnesota Cyclospora Outbreak include City Market in Rochester, with twenty-six reported cases, Outbreak Steak House in Hermantown, with four sickened guests, and the Duluth Grill, of Duluth, having reported five cases after catering a conference. The sickened individuals experienced symptoms until early July. With the short shelf-life of the basil, and the work of the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) working to halt the import of the basil and recalling any remaining product, the worst of the outbreak should be over. At its peak, however, ill consumers experienced symptoms ranging from severe fatigue, diahrrea, abdominal pain, loss of appetite and weight loss.
As fresh produce and herbs, such as basil, are abundant at this time of year, cases tend to increase. And yet, the outbreak impacting hundreds of individuals across thirty or so states, from products like basil as seen in this Minnesota cluster, is even higher than typical. Consumers should pay attention to recalls and educate themselves in order to mitigate some of the risk. However, as in the case of the basil, some contamination events cannot be detected ahead of time and even proper handling by restaurant staff cannot stop the outbreak. Treatment by medical professionals is the best recourse, then, to soften the blow of what can be extremely uncomfortable symptoms.