While the number of new cyclospora cases being confirmed in Nebraska is slowing, the effort to find the source of the parasite that’s caused all the trouble is not.
State health officials report 62 cases across the Husker State now, along with dozens more in Iowa, Texas and elsewhere. Epidemiologist Patty Quinlisk says they’re working to try and nail down the source.
“We’re having daily conference calls with all the states that’re involved, the Centers for Disease Control and the Food and Drug Administration, because when you get something with multiple states and thinking that it’s a food that hit the basic markets across the United States potentially, you have to get all of the federal as well as the state people involved,” Quinlisk says.
It’s believed the culprit that caused the cyclospora cases was spread through a contaminated fruit or vegetable. Quinlisk says having multiple states involved is a mixed blessing.
“Sometimes it makes it a little bit harder because it’s more complex and there are more people involved,” according to Quinlisk. “But on the other hand, sometimes it can make it easier because the same kind of foods, for example, that Iowans are eating might be different than what Texans are eating, and therefore, you find out what food they have in common.”
The two-week lag in the incubation of the disease followed by a delay in people seeking treatment means investigators may find people who can’t pull up the answers right away.
“We’re actually having to go back to people and ask them what they ate in early June. I would never be able to remember that,” Quinlisk says. “So, we often will then say ‘what would you have been likely to do?’ What’s the, for example, grocery store that you go to most often? Do you go out to a certain restaurant routinely?”
Quinlisk says there’s no evidence to tie the problem to any fresh fruits or vegetables grown in the U.S. Prior to this outbreak, there hadn’t been a reported case of cyclosporiasis in Nebraska in four years.