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State

Parasitic illness could be linked to fast food salads

Approximately 90 cases of cyclosporiasis, an intestinal illness caused by the microscopic Cyclospora parasite (above), have been confirmed by the Illinois Department of Public Health.
Approximately 90 cases of cyclosporiasis, an intestinal illness caused by the microscopic Cyclospora parasite (above), have been confirmed by the Illinois Department of Public Health.

SPRINGFIELD (AP) – Health officials in Illinois and Iowa are investigating an increase in people becoming sick from a parasitic illness, possibly linked to McDonald’s salads.

Approximately 90 cases of cyclosporiasis, an intestinal illness caused by the microscopic Cyclospora parasite, have been confirmed by the Illinois Department of Public Health. People began getting sick in mid-May.

The initial investigation indicates a link to salads produced for McDonald’s restaurants. Nearly a one-fourth of the cases in Illinois reported eating salads from the fast food chain in the days before they became ill. In Iowa, 15 people ate the salads prior to getting sick.

McDonald’s is investigating the incidents, and has been cooperating with state health departments, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Food and Drug Administration investigation.

The company also is in the process of removing the salads from its restaurants and distributions centers, and re-supplying them with salads from other suppliers.

The illness is caused by consuming food or water contaminated with the microscopic parasite. Symptoms can include frequent bouts of watery diarrhea, loss of appetite and weight, cramping, bloating, and/or increased gas, nausea, fatigue and low-grade fever.

The infection can be treated with antibiotics. If not treated, it can last a few days to a few months.

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