Connecticut gets stomach bug
Published 12:00 pm, Saturday, July 27, 2013
Two Connecticut women are among roughly 285 people afflicted by a mysterious stomach bug that's swept across multiple states.
The illness is spread by a parasite found in food and water, and the source of the illness still hasn't been found.
But local experts said residents should be cautious, not crazed, when it comes to the outbreak.
Earlier this week, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that residents of at least 11 states, including Connecticut, were infected by the intestinal illness cyclospora.
Both of the Connecticut women who contracted the sickness became ill in June; neither was hospitalized, according to the Connecticut Department of Public Health.
The state didn't release ages or towns of residence for either of the women.
The illness isn't spread from person-to-person, but by exposure to the microscopic parasite cyclospora cayetanensis, found in food and water. It's not yet known what caused the outbreak, but previous cyclospora incidents were caused by various kinds of fresh produce.
At least 18 of those sickened have been hospitalized, and there haven't been any deaths yet.
Locally, health experts said cyclospora isn't uncommon, particularly among those who travel to developing nations.
Dr. Michael Parry, Stamford Hospital director of infectious diseases and microbiology, said he sees a handful of cases each year. "(Cyclospora cayetanensis) is a well-known protozoa that causes diarrhea," Parry said. "Compared to everything else that causes diarrhea, it's a relatively small problem."
Dembry, also a professor of medicine infectious diseases and epidemiology at the Yale University School of Medicine, agreed that cyclospora is something that pops up at most hospitals. What's odd about this outbreak, she said, is that the majority of those afflicted with cyclospora didn't have a history of recent international travel.
At least one of the Connecticut residents afflicted with the disease likely acquired it while traveling internationally. That case, and others related to international travel, aren't considered part of the national outbreak.
It is not known whether the illness of the other woman, who had no history of international travel, is related to the national outbreak.
So far, the outbreak hasn't made a major dent in Connecticut, and most of the cases seem to be in Iowa.
Still, experts said residents should be mindful of their health and extra careful in preparing their produce. "Anyone who (has a compromised immune system) and has problematic watery diarrhea should see a doctor," said Caroline Loeser, section chief of gastroenterology at Bridgeport Hospital. "And everyone should wash their fruits and vegetables very well."
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