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Parasite Cases Rise in Iowa & Nebraska

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Iowa experts said that in the last twenty years, they have seen a total of ten cases of Cyclospora.  That's making experts worried about the sudden spike in confirmed cases, with over 70 alone in Iowa.

Joan Hegerfeld-Baker, SDSU Food Safety Specialist explains the illness, “Cyclospora is a parasite that has often been associated with fresh produce and many times contamination on the fresh produce comes from a water source.”

The main focus is on fruits and vegetables, and even the federal government has started to investigate.
Officials from the Department of Inspections and Appeals, the Food and Drug Administration, and the Center for Disease Control are all working the case.

Hegerfeld-Baker on the search for the contamination, “The thing is, whenever there is an outbreak, there is always an investigation being done to find the origin.   Sometimes you’re looking for a needle in a haystack because by the time somebody may have gotten sick, the source from where they have gotten sick may no longer be available.”

The disease causes diarrhea, fatigue, and muscle-soreness.

Nancy, a past attendee of SDSU’s extension program, says there is a strict policy when it comes to contaminates and their crops.

“That kind of gave us some guidelines as to what to follow, so through our irrigation practices we use primarily underground irrigation.”  Having underground irrigation reduces the risk of contaminating the water with foreign substances.  “We don't have a big concern of animal runoff, in the fields or where our washing station is, so were very conscious about food safety.”

The easiest way to prevent yourself from getting sick as a consumer is simple, thoroughly wash your produce, rinsing might not be enough.
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