The number of confirmed cases of a rare food-borne illness in Nebraska has risen to 53 while federal public health officials still haven't determined where it's coming from.
An outbreak of cyclosporiasis is confined mostly to eastern Nebraska and is believed to be linked to Iowa where 71 people were confirmed sick as of Monday. Three people were hospitalized due to the illness but have since been released.
Nebraska Epidemiologist Dr. Thomas Safranek says fresh vegetables are likely the culprit but the investigation continues.
Consumers should wash fruits and vegetables to reduce the risk of getting the illness, which is caused by a parasite that contaminates food.
Cyclospora causes diarrhea lasting several weeks, as well as fatigue, loss of appetite, weight loss, bloating, intestinal gas, stomach cramps, nausea, vomiting, muscle aches and low-grade fever.
Officials say locally grown produce is not part of this outbreak and due to the timeframe of the outbreak, the produce may have already worked its way through the system and off grocer's shelves.
"We're hoping to find the outbreak is limited in duration and scope and this is an encouraging sign," said Dr. Joseph Acierno, Chief Medical Officer and Director of Public Health for DHHS. "We are still working to locate the exact source of the outbreak and will remain vigilant in investigating newly reported cases."
Anyone with the above symptoms should see a physician for diagnosis and treatment.