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Prepackaged Salad Believed Cause of Stomach Bug

A prepackaged salad mix is being blamed for some cases of a stomach bug that has sickened hundreds of people in 15 states, including Missouri.
A prepackaged salad mix is being blamed for some cases of a stomach bug that has sickened hundreds of people in 15 states.  The illness is caused by a parasite, and now federal health officials are working to find out exactly how and where it got into the bags of produce. 

This is the microscopic culprit blamed for a nationwide health scare.  It is called "cyclospora," and it's a parasite that causes diarrhea, abdominal pain and flu-like symptoms.  The most common source for infection in humans is contaminated food or water.

372 cases of cyclospora have been reported in 15 states, including Missouri.  Now health officials in Iowa and Nebraska say they know why.

"We found that a prepackaged salad mix that includes a variety of things, including iceberg and romaine lettuce, also cabbage and carrots, was what we believe to the the vehicle for this illness," says  Steven Mandernach with the Iowa Dept. of Inspections and Appeals.

A specific brand has not been named, but a report says the salad came through "national distribution channels."

The outbreak may be nearing an end.  Nebraska officials say the contaminated produce is no longer in the state's food supply.  Their message: Keep eating salad.
"Definitely, the healthy effects of salad are better for you than the very small risk that you might contract an illness."

But consumers are urged to wash fresh fruits and vegetables well, and read labels on prepackaged produce.


(Bigad Shaban, CBS News)

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