(ABC NEWS) -- A parasite has sickened another 16 people, bringing the stomach bug
outbreak total to 285 patients in 11 states as of Wednesday night,
according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Cyclospora, the one-celled parasite that causes diarrhea, stomach
cramps and other symptoms normally associated with a viral stomach bug,
is common in tropical regions like Latin America, but isn't typically
seen in the United States, according to the CDC. Most of the people
affected were in Iowa, Nebraska and Texas. New Jersey, Minnesota and
Ohio are the latest states to report cyclospora cases.
"CDC really has their hands full with this one," said Dr. Richard
Besser, chief health medical correspondent for ABC News. "It's hard to
pick up so there's probably a lot more of this disease out there."
Because the illness doesn't spread from person to person, it's
possible it came from contaminated food or water, said Dr. Nicole
Bouvier, an infectious diseases professor at the Icahn School of
Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City. It's curable.
Cyclospora can seem like a stomach bug, but instead of going away
within a few days, it hangs around. If you think you have it, Besser
suggested alerting your doctor because he or she can do specific tests
and prescribe an antibiotic that will rid your body of the microscopic
Bouvier said, "Doctors can diagnose it by looking for either the
parasite itself or eggs of the parasite in a stool sample. They have to
do it with a microscope because it's tiny. You can't see it with your
naked eye. It's not like a worm."
People with deficient immune systems should be extra careful, but it
doesn't transmit person-to-person because it doesn't live on hands,
Bouvier said. Therefore, if a whole family has cyclospora, it's because
they ate or drank the same thing, not because they infected each other.
"The CDC has to find a connection between these people and, so far,
they haven't figure out what links all these people together," Besser
The CDC and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration are investigating.
By Sydney Lupkin, ABC News