Salad mix blamed for severe stomach bug

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OKLAHOMA CITY — Prepackaged salad mix has been pinpointed as the source of an outbreak of cyclospora — an intestinal illness tied to a rare type of parasite — that has sickened scores of people in Iowa and Nebraska, health authorities in those states said Tuesday.

More than 100 Iowans and 78 Nebraskans have fallen ill with the disease since last month, those states’ health departments said. Five people have been hospitalized as a result in Nebraska, where health officials say new cases of cyclospora are reported daily.

Investigations commonly led authorities in both states to conclude that a bagged blend of iceberg and romaine lettuce, red cabbage and carrots is to blame, with Nebraska noting the mix had been prewashed.

State and federal authorities are still trying to determine exactly where the product was sold or under what brand name. The Nebraska alert noted that it “came through national distribution channels” and that “locally grown produce is not part of this outbreak.”

NCI_26Iowa authorities found that about 80% of those who fell ill had prepackaged salad, but the allegedly tainted product was apparently no longer on grocers’ shelves by the time investigators were alerted.

The upside of this delay? “Iowans should continue eating salads as the implicated prepackaged salad mix is no longer in the state’s food supply chain,” said Steven Mandernach, the head of that state’s food and consumer safety bureau.

What’s happening in Iowa and Nebraska may be linked to 122 cyclospora cases in Texas, that state’s department of health services said. As of Tuesday, authorities had not singled out a common source for the Lone Star State’s outbreak, which is largely centered in and around Dallas and Fort Worth.

For more on this CNN story, click here.

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