At least three dozen Minnesotans have become ill from two unrelated outbreaks of cyclosporiasis, which is caused by a parasite found on some imported fresh produce.
One outbreak has been traced to the Sonora Grill in Minneapolis where 17 patrons became ill after eating there in mid-May, according to the Minnesota Health Department.
The second outbreak stems from veggie trays sold at Kwik Trip convenience stores in Minnesota and Wisconsin. So far, 20 people have been sickened in Minnesota after buying the products at stores across the state. The company has removed the product from its shelves.
“We do not have any indication at this time that the two outbreaks are related,” said Trisha Robinson, an epidemiologist supervisor with the Health Department. “Besides these outbreak cases, there are other cases of cyclosporiasis that do not appear to be related to either of these outbreaks, which is not unexpected for this time of year. We typically see increases in Cyclospora infections from May through August.”
The infection is caused by eating produce that is contaminated with fecal matter. It is not spread from person to person.
Washing imported produce, or routine chemical disinfection or sanitizing methods, are unlikely to kill the Cyclospora parasite. Symptoms typically include watery diarrhea, stomach cramps, nausea, loss of appetite and weight loss. People typically become ill about a week after exposure, but this period can range from two to 14 days. Diarrhea can last several weeks if not treated.
Health officials said the Sonora Grill is cooperating with investigators, who say they do not have any indication that there is an ongoing risk to patrons.
But investigators are looking to talk to anyone who ate at the restaurant over the weekend of May 18 to 20.
“Even if you have not been sick, your information can help us identify what may have caused these illnesses and prevent future illnesses,” said Robinson. The Health Department can be reached at 651-201-4891.
The Kwik Trip outbreak has also sickened 30 people in Wisconsin. Consumers are warned not to eat Del Monte Vegetable Trays containing broccoli, cauliflower, carrots and dill dip that were purchased at any Kwik Trip.