Cyclospora Outbreak Plagues Midwest in the Midst of COVID-19 Pandemic

By: Tim Tomasik

Chicago Food Poisoning Attorney

On July 10, 2020, another Cyclospora lawsuit was filed in Illinois against Fresh Express and Jewel-Osco after a Cyclospora-contaminated salad hospitalized an Illinois man.

The lawsuit was filed in DuPage County, Illinois, on behalf of a man who purchased a tainted bagged salad mix from the Jewel-Osco in Lombard, Illinois. Shortly thereafter, he began to experience severe abdominal pain, bloating, nausea, and frequent diarrhea. His condition was so severe that he sought treatment at Elmhurst hospital, where he was found to have Cyclospora.

What is Cyclospora?

Cyclospora is a microscopic (tiny, not seen without a microscope) parasite that can affect the intestinal tract and cause diarrhea in those who get infected. Cyclospora is generally transmitted when infected feces contaminate food or water. It is unlikely to be transmitted directly from person to person because the Cyclospora parasite needs time (days to weeks) after being passed in a bowel movement to become infectious for another person.

Cyclospora infects the small intestine (bowel) and usually causes watery diarrhea, with frequent, sometimes explosive, bowel movements. Other common symptoms include loss of appetite, weight loss, stomach cramps/pain, bloating, increased gas, nausea, and fatigue. People may also experience vomiting, body aches, headache, low-grade fever, and other flu-like symptoms. Some people who are infected with Cyclospora do not have any symptoms. If not treated, the illness may last from a few days to a month or longer. Symptoms may seem to go away and then return one or more times (relapse). It is common to feel very tired.

What Foods Have Been Linked to U.S. Outbreaks of Cyclosporiasis?

Past Cyclosporiasis outbreaks in the U.S. have been linked to raspberries, basil, cilantro, snow peas and mesclun lettuce. Although it's unknown exactly how food and water become infected with Cyclospora, people should be aware that rinsing or washing food is not likely to remove it.

According to the CDC, as of July 9th, there are now 509 laboratory-confirmed Cyclospora victims associated with this outbreak in 8 states, including Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, North Dakota, Nebraska, and Wisconsin. At least 33 have been hospitalized. The CDC was able to quickly trace the infections to tainted bagged salad mix widely distributed through retail outlets such as ALDI, Hy-Vee, Walmart, and Jewel-Osco. The CDC also identified Fresh Express as the common producer of the tainted salad mixes.

Foodborne illnesses can be spread by the negligence of workers at restaurants, grocery stores, or food manufacturers and distributors. Staff members who do not properly wash their hands, clean cooking surfaces and utensils, or cook food to the correct temperature can cause serious harm to consumers.

Contact Our Illinois Foodborne Illness Attorneys

Contaminated food can cause a great deal of harm to people who consume it, and those who are responsible for food poisoning injuries may be held liable for the damages caused by their negligence. At Tomasik Kotin Kasserman, our Chicago food poisoning lawyers can help you understand the steps you should take to demonstrate the extent of your injuries, establish liability, receive the compensation you deserve, and protect others from being harmed. To schedule a free consultation, contact us at 312-605-8800.

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