Published: Sat, July 14, 2018
Markets | By Otis Pena

Illinois, Iowa officials look into rise in parasitic illness

Illinois, Iowa officials look into rise in parasitic illness

The illnesses are not concentrated in a specific part of IL, but spread across several counties, state public health officials said.

IL has reported 90 cases of the illness since mid-May, and Iowa has reported 15 cases since late June.

The Illinois Health Department said a quarter of its cases reported eating McDonald's salads before getting sick.

Cyclosporiasis is caused by the Cyclospora parasite, which health leaders say can infect people after they consume food that has contamination from feces. The parasite is usually found in tropical areas but in the US has been linked to imported produce, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.

"We're working with the CDC, the FDA and Iowa to investigate multiple potential sources", IL health department spokeswoman Melaney Arnold said in an email.

The department says McDonald's is also investigating and has been fully cooperating with health officials.

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People infected with the parasite usually develop symptoms such as diarrhea and "frequent, sometimes explosive, bowel movements", within roughly a week, the health agency stated.

Those with healthy immune systems should recover without treatment, the CDC said.

"Although a link has been made to salads sold in McDonald's restaurants in some IL cases, public health officials continue to investigate other sources", said IDPH Director Nirav D. Shah, M.D., J.D. If not treated with antibiotics, it could last between a few days to a month or longer.

McDonald's said about 3,000 outlets, mostly in the Midwest, were affected and "out of an abundance of caution" it was removing salads from those store until it could replace them with stock from other suppliers.

According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, the illnesses have been reported across multiple counties in the state, although no counties were named.

McDonald's is removing the lettuce blend from identified restaurants and distribution centers.

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