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Has Cyclospora Hit Cooper’s Hawk Winery in Florida?

Posted in Cyclospora,Cyclospora,Our Blog,Outbreaks & Recalls on July 10, 2019

Straight out of Jacksonville, Florida, there has been an announcement of an outbreak of parasitic illnesses linked to a local winery. Thus far, 30 people or more have reported contracting parasitic infections after a charity banquet. Here’s what you need to know about the Cooper’s Hawk Cyclospora Outbreak:

The Reports

A local news outlet, News4Jax, is reporting that people attended the Exchange Club banquet at Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurant may have developed gastrointestinal illnesses. At this time, about 30 people have reported confirmed infections of Cyclospora after attending the banquet.

First Person Accounts

According to the news story:

” “I got up to go to the bathroom and collapsed,” Tom Clift, who attended the banquet, told News4Jax. “My wife called 911 and I was taken to the hospital by ambulance. 

Clift also said he lost 12 pounds since becoming ill in mid-June. It can take two days to two weeks after ingesting Cyclospora for symptoms of the infection known as cyclosporiasis to develop, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Even though it’s been almost a month since Clift became ill, according to the television station report, he is still sick. Another outbreak victim, Jane Jens, also said symptoms from the parasitic infection keep hanging on.

“What has been so devastating about this is that there are relapses. So you think you’re getting better, you feel, like ‘OK. I’m alright. I’m going to eat a small meal or a piece of toast.’ And maybe a day or two goes by and bam, here it comes again.” ”

The Investigation

Officials from the Duval County Health Department are working with the CDC on the outbreak investigation. Officials are requesting banquet attendees to fill out surveys.

FAQ’s on Cyclospora

  • What is Cyclospora?

Cyclospora cayetanensis is a one-celled microscopic parasite.  When people eat food or drink water contaminated with Cyclospora, they can develop the intestinal illness, Cyclosporiasis.

  • Can I become infected with Cyclospora through person-to-person contact?

Infections of this kind through person-to-person contact are not likely, as process of maturation (sporulation) of the parasite is thought to require days to weeks.

  • Who is at the highest risk for infection?

People of all ages and health statuses are at risk for infection. The CDC reports that those who are living in or traveling to the tropics and subtropics may be at increased risk because Cyclosporiasis is endemic in some countries in these zones.

  • What are Cyclospora symptoms?

According to the CDC, it usually takes about one week for symptoms to develop.  Cyclosporiasiscauses watery diarrhea.  Frequent, and sometimes explosive, bowel movements are common.  People may also experience lack of appetite, weight loss, stomach pain or cramps, increased gas, bloating, nausea, or fatigue.  Vomiting, headaches, fever, body aches, and flu-like symptoms have also been reported.  People often report feeling unusually tired.

Without medical intervention, symptoms may persist from a few days to a month or more.  Sometimes symptoms seem to go away only to return one or more times later.

  • Are there future complications of Cyclosporiasis?

Potentially. Although Cyclosporiasis usually is not life threatening, some more severe cases have reported complications during and after the infection. These complications include: malabsorption (inability for intestines to absorb nutrients), ongoing bowel issues, cholecystitis (inflammation of the gallbladder), and Reiter’s Syndrome or Reactive Arthritis (inflammation and pain in joints). Those who are elderly, very young, or have compromised immune systems are the most likely to develop reoccurrence of the infection and/or complications.

  • Can Cyclospora be treated?

Yes.  Doctors treat Cyclospora with the antibiotics trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole, also known by their brand names, Bactrim, Septra, or Cotrim.  People experiencing diarrhea should also rest and drink plenty of fluids.

If you are allergic to sulfa drugs, the CDC recommends that you see your doctor to discuss other potential treatments.

How to Stop the Life Cycle and Prevent Future Infections

Cyclospora infection occurs when a person ingests food or drinks that have been contaminated with fecal matter.  The person becomes ill and then infectious themselves.  The pathogen is eliminated in the feces of the infected person in spore form.  With the pathogen being sporulated, typical diagnostic methods are often ineffective.  Additionally, in the spore form, the pathogen is not infectious.  After the oocytes come out of their spore phase within a few weeks, any food or water supply can become contaminated.  The next host somehow consumes the infectious feces and the cycle starts all over again.

Understanding how Cyclospora infection is transmitted, a person can take control of the life cycle and successfully avoid becoming infected.

  • Use caution when traveling to areas where Cyclospora are endemic. In some tropical locations, the bacteria live in the environment and transmission is at a much higher rate than in other parts of the world.  Refer to the CDC’s travel notices page for updated information on risks associated with your destination.
  • Use a clean water source. Most public water supply is safe for consumption.  Always pay attention for advisories to boil water in the event of known contamination from the water source.  Water from rivers, lakes, and streams should be treated with an appropriate sterilization method.  When traveling to higher risk areas
  • Always wash fresh produce with clean water thoroughly before consuming. Produce consumed fresh is not killed by heat, so bacteria may be present on the surface from growing near an infected water source. Be sure to use safe, clean water to clean produce.
  • Protect yourself by washing your hands prior to preparing, serving, and/or eating food. This will help reduce the spread of infection if you have come in contact with the bacteria in daily contact.

The Health Department Recommends

Anyone who attended this banquet and has developed a gastrointestinal illness should seek medical attention and tell their health care providers about the possible exposure to the parasite.

The Lange Law Firm 

Our mission is to help families who have been harmed by contaminated food or water.  When corporations cause Cyclospora food poisoning outbreaks or Legionnaires’ disease outbreaks, we use the law to hold them accountable.  The Lange Law Firm, PLLC is the only law firm in the nation solely focused on representing families in food poisoning lawsuits and Legionnaires disease lawsuits.

If you or your child was infected with Cyclospora or any other parasite after eating at Cooper’s Hawk Winery and are interested in making a legal claim for compensation, we have a Cyclospora lawyer ready to help you.  Call us for a free no obligation legal consultation at (833) 330-3663 or send us an e-mail here.

By: Candess Zona-Mendola, Editor (Non-Lawyer)