Blame it on the salad.
State officials say a nationally distributed prepackaged salad mix caused the outbreak of cyclospora that afflicted 78 Nebraskans.
They believe the source of the outbreak is long gone, likely off of grocery shelves in the state by the end of June.
State Epidemiologist Dr. Thomas Safranek says detailed interviews of those affected zeroed in on a salad mix distributed in June and no longer on Nebraska grocery shelves.
“So, we don’t think there’s an on-going problem with the vegetables that caused the bulk of this outbreak,” Safranek tells Nebraska Radio Network.
Investigators with the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services conducted detailed interviews with the Nebraskans afflicted, asking as many as 300 questions in an attempt to discover the cause. Investigators, at times, talked with individuals three or four times. A common factor emerged and pointed them toward the salad mix distributed under a number of names. No local produce was involved.
DHHS says cyclospora is a rare parasite that causes a lengthy gastrointestinal illness. It can be found on fresh vegetables and fruit. Symptoms include chronic diarrhea that can last for weeks or months. Weight loss is common. One victim in Nebraska lost 25 pounds.
State officials are now working with federal officials to pinpoint the exact origin of cyclospora to prevent future outbreaks.
“That’s the whole goal. What we really need to do is to find out where the compromise occurred and is there something we can learn from that,” Safranek says. “Was it something that warrants altering our best practices that are in place out there or was it a breakdown in complying with our current best practice guidelines?”
AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [:50]