Dr. Bryon Harbolt examines patient Barbara Kilgore in his Cathedral Canyon Clinic where he has been seeing her since 1984 in Altamont, Tennessee July 14, 2013. Harbolt, 89, who charges as little as $15 for an office visit, sees patients six days a week in the rural clinic he opened in 1960. Photo taken July 14, 2013. (Photo : REUTERS/Harrison McClary )
A parasite has infected an additional 16 people, raising the stomach bug outbreak number to 285 patients in 11 states, announced the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Thursday.
10 people were hospitalized after becoming infected with the rare virus caused by Cyclospora, a one-celled parasite that causes symptoms typically associated with a viral stomach bug. The parasite is commonly found in tropical regions like Latin America and is linked to fresh produce including fresh raspberries, basil, snow peas and lettuce. However, researchers are not sure which food is spreading the bug, said Barbara Herwaldt, a CDC medical epidemiologist.
"We're working around the clock to try and figure out what caused this outbreak," Dr. Herwaldt said, according to ABC News.
Unlike most stomach viruses that go away within a few days, the illness can last longer. Its symptoms include watery diarrhea, cramps, bloating, fatigue and weight loss. It is usually spread through infected food and water, but not person to person.
According to the Wall Street Journal, at least 138 people have been infected in Iowa, 70 in Nebraska, 66 in Texas, three in Wisconsin, two in Georgia, and one each in Connecticut, Illinois, Kansas, Minnesota, New Jersey and Ohio.
Luckily, the disease is curable with an antibiotic. Dr. Nicole Bouvier, an infectious diseases professor at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City 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."
Other physicicans suggest alerting your doctor if you think you have it because physicians can do specific tests and prescribe the treatment that will rid your body of the illness.