DHH confirms 2 cases of cyclospora in Louisiana

Published: Aug. 1, 2013 at 3:51 PM CDT|Updated: Aug. 15, 2013 at 3:51 PM CDT
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BATON ROUGE, LA (KSLA) - The Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals says 2 cases of cyclospora have been confirmed in the state.

According to DHH spokesperson Ken Pastorick, two cases of intestinal illness caused by a rare parasite were confirmed this week in Bienville and Terrebone Parishes.

The towns, ages, sexes of the victims and other potentially identifying information is not being released.

Pastorick says the DHH has been in contact with the CDC to share information about the case, as the federal government is investigating a cyclospora outbreak.

Cyclosporiasis is an intestinal illness caused by the microscopic parasite Cyclospora cayetanensis. People can become infected with Cyclospora by consuming food or water contaminated with the parasite and those with the illness may have flu-like symptoms, diarrhea and nausea.

People who believe they have the illness should see their doctors immediately. While the source of the outbreak has not yet been identified, Pastorick emphasizes that people should take extra caution to wash all produce before eating it. "People need to be conscious of produce they purchase. Washing it is very important. Don't just pull it off the shelf and eat it. You never know where it's been. It looks great on the produce aisle, but you can't see bacteria."

The 2 cases in Louisiana are the first confirmed in the state in a nationwide outbreak that has sickened more than 400 people in at least 15 states, including Arkansas, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York City, Ohio, Texas and Wisconsin.

The CDC stresses that it's not clear that cases spread across these states are all part of the same outbreak.

Health officials in Nebraska and Iowa say they've traced cases there to prepackaged salad. But they haven't revealed the company that packaged the salad or where it was sold.

Copyright 2013 KSLA. The Associated Press contributed to this report.