Published on July 15th, 2015 |


Update: Buckhead, Fulton residents hit with parasite illnesses

(This story was updated with new information Thusday night.)

The Fulton County Department of Health and Wellness Thursday announced it is working with the Georgia Department of Public Health to investigate an increase in reports of cyclosporiasis among Georgia residents, in particular, residents of Fulton County.

Cyclospora is a parasite that infects people through contaminated food or water. There also have been media reports in north Fulton of other parasitic illnesses similar to cyclosporiasis.

County and state health officials are working together to pursue all leads in this investigation. They are asking anyone who may have become ill or wants to report a suspected contamination source to call 1-866-782-4584.

Past documented outbreaks have been associated with salad mix, fresh herbs (cilantro and basil) and berries (fresh and frozen). Past outbreak investigations have shown that the parasite can contaminate fresh produce through irrigation with contaminated water.

Meanwhile, during this week, Atlanta TV channels and other media have been reporting that several Buckhead residents have come down with an illness that doctors say may originate from a parasite living on unwashed fruit. That parasite was identified as Cystoisospora belli.

According to reports, Ashley Gelber learned from her doctor that her ‘month-long stomach flu,’ which featured diarrhea, stomach pain, and fatigue may be an intestinal disease called cystoisosporiasis, which is caused by the parasite Cystoisospora belli.

A local doctor told WSB-TV that the likely source of the parasite is unwashed fruit and not any local water supplies. A diagnosis of cystoisosporiasis can only be made through analysis of stool samples, according to the CDC.

The CDC says that cystoisosporiasis is most commonly found in tropical and subtropical areas, but can show up anywhere on earth. If not treated quickly in people with compromised immune systems, the illness can become severe and/or prolonged.

The CDC says that the treatment for cystoisosporiasis includes fluids, rest, and antibiotics such as Bactrim, Septra, or Cotrim. But the CDC urges that anyone who believes they may have cystoisosporiasis should consult with their family doctor.

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