Metro-East News

More than 90 cases of food parasites possibly linked to McDonald’s salads

AP Photo

More than 90 people in Illinois have contracted an intestinal parasite that might be related to McDonald’s salads, according to public health officials.

The Illinois Department of Public Health is investigating an outbreak of cyclosporiasis, which is an intestinal illness caused by a microscopic parasite. Cases have been reported across the state with illnesses beginning in mid-May.

“The initial investigation indicates a link to consumption of McDonald’s salads,” read a statement issued Thursday by IDPH. Approximately one-fourth of the patients reported eating a McDonald’s salad in the days before they became ill, and a similar pattern is being tracked in Iowa.

“If you ate a salad from McDonald’s since mid-May and developed diarrhea and fatigue, contact a health care provider about testing and treatment,” said Dr. Nirav Shah, IDPH director.

The Iowa Department of Public Health, in its own release, said it has identified 15 cases linked to the same illness and parasite, The Associated Press reports.

McDonald’s is removing the salads from restaurants and distribution centers and resupplying with salads from other suppliers, “fully cooperating” with state health departments, the Centers for Disease Control and Food and Drug Administration, according to IDPH.

Cyclospora cannot be transmitted from one person to another, but only through consuming food or water infected with feces that contain the parasite. Symptoms include frequent diarrhea, loss of appetite and weight, cramping, increased gas, nausea, fatigue and a low-grade fever.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention describes how they investigate multi-state foodborne outbreaks and illnesses when they occur to keep more people from getting sick.

Elizabeth Donald: 618-239-2507, @BNDedonald