Ga. health officials, CDC probe stomach virus

ATLANTA (AP) — Georgia public health officials said Wednesday they were investigating four cases of the gastrointestinal illness that has sickened more than 370 people in 15 states.

Three Georgia women and a man have fallen ill with Cyclosporiasis, a parasite known to cause diarrhea, stomach pain, cramps and fatigue about a week after exposure, said Georgia Department of Public Health spokeswoman Nancy Nydam.

Additional symptoms can include weight loss, loss of appetite and gas, Nydam said, adding that one Georgia case required hospitalization.

State health officials are working with the Centers for Disease Control to investigate the outbreak of the illness. On a national level, 372 people have been sickened by the parasite, health officials have said. In some states, officials have linked the stomach bug to a prepackaged salad mix.

Georgia officials are unsure of what caused illnesses in the state, but Nydam said Cyclosporiasis is often linked to contaminated berries, leafy greens and herbs.

Consumers should bag fresh produce separately from meat, avoid bruised or damaged produce and try to buy refrigerated produce that is surrounded by ice to avoid potential exposure to the illness, Nydam said. Officials are also reminding consumers to wash their hands and produce before eating or cooking with it.

The illnesses in Georgia were reported between June 15 and Wednesday, Nydam said. She added that it was not yet clear if the illnesses in Georgia were related to each other, or were linked to the larger set of illnesses that have been reported across the country.

Antibiotics are typically used to treat Cyclosporiasis, and Nydam said Georgia usually sees about 10 cases of the infection annually.

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