Worst Cyclospora Outbreak In Years Hits Heartland

It's something you may not have ever heard of, but health experts are concerned about its biggest outbreak in years.

It's called “Cyclospora.”

It's contracted through the food we eat, and it leaves those affected sick for a very long time.

Health experts say washing produce before you eat it is a good practice.

For people like Kelli Sicner, of Omaha, it's always seemed like it's a good idea.

“One, I just think they're dirty if they're not washed, and two, pesticides and stuff, yeah, you don't know what else is on there. I just feel like it's dirty if I'm not,” she says.

Lately health experts say Cyclospora is another reason.

It's contracted through fruits and vegetables.

Some of the symptoms include diarrhea, fatigue, loss of appetite, weight loss, and stomach pain.

In many cases, the symptoms can last up to two months.

The last time Nebraska had a case of Cyclospora was back in 2008.

This summer, the state has had 53.

36 have come from Douglas County. Five are from Sarpy and Cass Counties.

The Douglas County Health Department says it's definitely not something to take lightly.

“If you already have many underlying illnesses, then this can lead to dehydration and therefore can be serious for you,” says Douglas County Health Director, Dr. Adi Pour.

The Health Department is fighting back though. It's a five page questionnaire given to those with the sickness to find out what they ate before they got the illness. So far, they found out it was probably a vegetable.

The good news is there haven't been any new cases since the end of June, so whatever it was, has likely passed its shelf life.

Still, experts say take caution, and wash your fruits and vegetables.

For someone like Sicner, she's going to wash a little harder.

“Yeah, I'm definitely going to be more conscious. It kind of freaks me out now,” she says.

Iowa has reported at least 60 cases of Cyclospora.

Texas has also reported 8.

Medical treatment is available for anyone who contracts the parasite.

The Douglas County Health Department believes wherever the vegetable came from, was grown outside the country.

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