Officials Investigate Parasitic Infections Connected To Dining In Southwest Michigan

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By WWJ Newsradio 950

LANSING (WWJ) - State health officials have launched an investigation into cases of gastrointestinal illness connected to dining in Southwest Michigan.

The Michigan Health Department says eight lab-confirmed cases of cyclosporiasis, a gastrointestinal sickness cause by a microscopic parasite, have been confirmed since late June. Another 14 people have similar symptoms and are being investigated as possible cases associated with this cluster.

Health officials say those affected report dining in the South Haven area since mid-June.

People can become infected with cyclosporiasis by consuming contaminated food or water. Outbreaks in the United States have been linked to contaminated fresh produce.

Illness typically results in watery diarrhea, and can include loss of appetite, weight loss, stomach cramps, bloating, nausea and fatigue. Symptoms generally appear 1-2 weeks after ingestion of the contaminated product. If untreated, symptoms often last for weeks and can return one or more times. Infection is not transmitted directly from person to person and usually is not life-threatening.

The Van Buren-Cass District Health Department is working with the state health department as part of the investigation.  

Preliminary information suggests an exposure to food products prepared at or distributed by Taste restaurant in South Haven. There is no indication that the illnesses are related to poor food handling or preparation at this establishment. Taste restaurant is fully cooperating with the investigation. 

Additional establishments may be identified as this investigation continues. Public health agencies are also closely monitoring an increase in cases of cyclosporiasis statewide and nationally that are unrelated to the investigation in the South Haven area.

State and local investigators are reviewing food histories and invoices from suppliers to the restaurant to identify specific food products that may have caused the illnesses and determine the extent to which those products may have been distributed in Michigan.