Disease Found in Florida Produce

Cyclospora is a microscopic potentially painful disease. So far there are dozens and dozens of confirmed cases all over the state, and the Florida Health Department says that number could go up.

It may not look like much, but doctors say this microscopic organism, cyclospora, can be quite debilitating.

Dr. Lonnie Draper of Tallahassee Memorial Hospital says, "It's a disease that is known worldwide. It is not very common in that there are somewhere around a dozen to a few dozen cases in Florida each year, although it's been slowly increasing."

Now, the Florida Department of Health says there are 77 confirmed cases all across the state.

Doc Kokol with the Florida Department of Health says, "But that's a moving number. Our epidemiologists are working every day to try and find the source."

Cyclospora contaminates fresh produce and burrows in the small intestine. Symptoms include diarrhea, weight loss, loss of appetite, stomach cramps and low-grade fever.

Dr. Draper adds, "The diarrhea is more watery, and that it doesn't come on immediately. It usually takes a week after you make contact with the organism."

Doc Kokol says, "If you have watery diarrhea or even explosive diarrhea for a week or more, then it's probably appropriate for you to check with your health care provider."

Health officials say washing your fresh produce will help cut back on the chance of getting the disease, but if you do make contact, Dr. Draper says, "It's treatable with an antibiotic called Bactrum."

The Health Department won't publicly speculate on what the source may be of this infection, but says they are investigating.

Cyclospora normally lasts about a week, but could last for as long as a month in some people. The Health Department says it's not a deadly disease, but seek treatment if you have any symptoms. The Department of Health is not yet saying where the cases have been found.