Foodborne illness breaks out in eastern Nebraska - News, Weather and Sports for Lincoln, NE;

Foodborne illness breaks out in eastern Nebraska

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By: Jenn Schanz

It's called Cyclosporiasis

It's an intestinal infection caused by a parasite linked to produce, most likely a vegetable.

Just after the Fourth of July, it starting to pop up in eastern Nebraska by way of Iowa.

There have been 45 cases in the Hawkeye state, 35 people have reported being sick in Nebraska.

Two of them in Lancaster County.

"We've embarked on a very in depth, intense interview process going over food histories for people until we can kind of pinpoint exactly what all these people have in common," says Dr. Tom Safranek.

He's studied the infection, but says its rare, and difficult to trace.

There hasn't been an outbreak in Nebraska since the 90s.

The main symptom of the illness is diarrhea. It's treated with a series of antibiotics.

But health officials say not to  let the parasite stop you from eating an apple-a-day. Washing your fruits and vegetables thoroughly can help minimize your risk.

"Put it in a colander and run it under some cold water in your sink for about a minute and you'll be able to wash all sorts of debris and also protect yourself from some of the food borne illnesses that are out there," says B.J. Birkel, Brand Manager for Open Harvest Co-Op.

So far no deaths have been reported, but the number of cases continue to grow.

"Our goal is if it's still around to get it off the market and if it's off the market already and no longer around, at least pinpoint exactly what it was and why it happened," says Dr. Safranek.

The majority of the cases have come from Douglass County, officials say there's likely a link between those and the outbreaks in Iowa.

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