Recently, the New York Times reported on a recall of bagged salad mixes that are thought to have caused an outbreak of an intestinal illness—cyclosporiasis—caused by a microscopic parasite. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has warned consumers and retailers in eight states to stop buying and selling these mixes while the outbreak is investigated. More than 200 people reported eating the salad mixes before getting sick, and at least 23 have been hospitalized due to the illness. The outbreak seems to have started in mid-May, and has affected people from ages 16 to 92 years old. The story is an illustration of harms New Hampshire residents could face from contaminated grocery products.
Cyclosporiasis is caused by Cyclospora cayetanensis, which is a microscopic parasite that can contaminate both food and water. Symptoms of cyclosporiasis include cramping, diarrhea, and fatigue. Fortunately, the illness can be treated with an antibiotic, and some healthy people may recover on their own even without treatment. The first outbreak of the illness that was linked with food was reported in the 1990s, and scientists are still are not sure what caused it. However, 2020 is the third year in a row that has seen an outbreak during the warmer months. One food microbiologist who spoke to the New York Times stated that the outbreaks are likely due to the quality of water used to irrigate the produce, but that there are a lot of unknown variables.
Sometimes, when a New Hampshire resident gets sick, it is not clear what caused the sickness. It may be hard or even impossible for some to connect their illness to something specific they ate. That’s why New Hampshire residents who get unexpectedly sick should be on the lookout for both voluntarily and forced recalls of food products, and see if others in their house who did or did not eat certain products also get sick or not.