A History of Cyclospora Outbreaks in the United States from 2000-2017

Today the national food safety law firm of Ron Simon & Associates, along with local counsel the Hammer Law Firm, P.L.C., filed a sixth cyclospora lawsuit as the number of bagged salad outbreak victims continues to climb in Iowa and seven other states.  

In the midst of Filing a series of new Cyclospora Lawsuits, and in the aftermath of a 2018-2019 series of Cyclospora Lawsuits, he is a recent history of Cyclospora Outbreaks in the United States from 2000-2017:

 While the United States is currently facing a large outbreak of Cyclospora tainted bagged salads, with recalls made on 91 different products in 32 states, it is necessary to inspect past outbreaks of Cyclospora to discern the causes and advocate for proper food safety precautions. Cyclospora outbreaks in the United States have ranged from a variety of fresh produce, though no outbreaks have been reported due to frozen produce. Products previously recalled include raspberries, blackberries, basil, snow peas, snap peas, bagged salad mix, cilantro, and scallions. 

 No outbreaks of cyclosporiasis were reported in 2003, 2007, or in 2010. The majority of Cyclospora outbreaks occurred during May, June, and July, though cases were also reported from December to July. Food poisoning is more common during summer months because bacteria, viruses, and parasites, spread and thrive more easily at increased temperatures. With a total of 39 reported outbreaks causing an estimated 1,730 cases from 2000-2017, only 17 of the outbreaks had a suspected source for the outbreak, leaving 22 outbreaks with no suspected food source. The CDC is currently working to develop a method for identifying the exact cause of a Cyclospora infection. Currently, it is difficult to identify the food source that the parasite Cyclospora cayetanensis infects, as it is a microscopic parasite ingested through food and water that has come into contact with infected feces. Cases of cyclosporiasis can be avoided by both consumers and producers taking proper precautions, such as washing hands properly before and after handling produce and avoiding cross contamination between foods by washing hands, countertops, and objects such as knives, before handling each produce item. This responsibility relies mainly on food producers safety standards, as the parasite Cyclospora is unlikely to be killed by sanitizing methods once it has infected food or water.

 The largest outbreaks of reported cyclosporiasis occurred in 2013 and 2014. During 2013, a bagged salad mix from Mexico caused 162 reported cases of cyclosporiasis, followed by 38 cases from cilantro from Mexico, and a suspected berry salad product causing 8 reported cases. Throughout 2014, 3 separate outbreaks occurred: in Michigan, 14 cases of cyclosporiasis were reported with no food product suspected, followed by cilantro from Mexico causing 26 cases, and another outbreak with no known cause in South Carolina causing 13 cases of cyclosporiasis. By comparing past cases of Cyclospora, such as the bagged salad outbreak in 2013 compared to the bagged salad outbreak we are currently facing in 2020, food safety protocol should be modified to avoid further outbreaks. 


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