What You Need to Know About the Cyclospora Outbreak
For a couple of weeks in July, an outbreak of the stomach bug, Cyclospora, was the top news story. And the news media played played the mystery to the hilt… Where did it come from? Where would it strike next? And would you be a victim?
As so often happens, the competition for ratings seems to have overruled common sense. The truth is, by the time this story was being reported, you chances of being affected by this parasite had already grown pretty slim.
Here’s what you probably didn’t hear from the news media… and what you need to know to avoid this nasty bug.
Cyclospora is a one-celled parasite that causes long-lasting, watery diarrhea. Untreated, it can last for a month or more. This bug can also kill your appetite, cause stomach cramps, nausea and vomiting, gas and bloating, muscle aches, fever and fatigue.
You can’t “catch” Cyclospora. You become infected by eating something that’s come into contact with infected human feces. Typically, it’s spread by contaminated fruits and vegetables.
Modern sanitation is one reason Cyclospora isn’t particularly common in the U.S. The other reason is that it’s a tropical/subtropical parasite.
But your risk of contracting Cyclospora has grown in the last twenty years or so. Because we’re importing a lot more produce from tropical and subtropical countries. And sanitation standards in some of these places aren’t as strict as in the U.S.
In fact, the government reports more than a third of all the fresh produce we buy comes from another country. And a significant portion of this is grown in warmer climates where Cyclospora is common.
So that’s why we’ve been seeing more cases in recent years. Now here’s why the news reports probably came after your risk of getting sick from the recent outbreak had passed…
Cyclospora takes a few days to “kick in.” Most people don’t get sick for 10 days or so after they eat contaminated produce. And – until they’ve been sick for a few days – most people tend to write it off as “just a little bug.”
When the diarrhea doesn’t go away after a few days, victims typically go see their doctor. But Cyclospora can’t be detected unless your doctor runs a special test. So three weeks or more may pass between infection and detection.
So, by time federal officials became concerned – and the news media began reporting the story – most of the contaminated produce has already been sold and eaten. And most of your risk had passed.
But with all the imported produce on the market, there are a few simple steps you can take to cut your risk of getting sick in the future.
First, buy local produce whenever you can. The chances of local produce being contaminated are very slight.
When you can’t buy local produce, try to choose American-grown fruits and vegetables. Again, these have a lower risk of contamination than imported produce.
Wash all your produce thoroughly. This can help lower your risk. But keep in mind that washing may not get rid of 100% of the Cyclospora if it’s present.
There’s only one way to ensure your food is safe. And that’s cooking.
Finally, let’s put the entire situation into perspective. About .00001% of the population got sick in this outbreak. Even if we say twice as many people got sick as were reported, it says your risk was never very great to begin with.
Yours in continued good health,
Best Life Herbals Wellness Team
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