While the cause of the illness, a parasite called cyclospora cayetanensis, is known, the source of the infection remains a mystery.
Health experts from the CDC and Food and Drug Administration are actively investigating the source of the outbreak, which is most often found in the tropics. Usually a foodborne parasite, the illness is not contagious, the CDC says.
The Associated Press reported Tuesday that more than 250 people in six states have been diagnosed with the stomach bug. By Thursday, the CDC reported that outbreak had spread to nine states with more than 275 sick.
At least 10 people have been hospitalized from late June to early July, the CDC reports.
“Cyclospora infects the small intestine (bowel) and usually causes watery diarrhea, with frequent, sometimes explosive, bowel movements,” a CDC fact-sheet on symptoms warns. “Other common symptoms include loss of appetite, weight loss, stomach cramps/pain, bloating, increased gas, nausea, and fatigue. Vomiting, body aches, headache, fever, and other flu-like symptoms may be noted. Some people who are infected with cyclospora do not have any symptoms.”
Health officials say is not yet clear whether the cases from all of the states are part of the same outbreak, but that patients haven’t been linked to a public gathering such as a festival or state fair.
The following states have been listed by the CDC as having had instances of cyclospora infections:
- Iowa (127)
- Nebraska (68)
- Texas (65)
- Wisconsin (4)
- Georgia (2)
- Connecticut (1)
- Illinois (1)
- Kansas (1)
The CDC is investigating additional illnesses and the number of those sickened could grow, the Associated Press reports.
For more information, visit the CDC’s official site on the outbreak.