Health Department investigates food-borne parasite causing illnesses at catered events

Macomb County Health Department investigates illnesses

MACOMB COUNTY, Mich. – The Health Department has put out an alert to hospitals and health care providers to be on the lookout for a food-borne parasite that's been popping up after some catered events this summer.

It's not just food poisoning that runs its course in 24 hours. It's an actual parasite, and its symptoms can linger for weeks if left untreated.

The Macomb County Health Department confirmed its investigation is ongoing after several cases of cyclosporiasis turned up. They said all the cases have been tied back to catered events that took place in June.

The parasite is usually associated with fresh produce, especially lettuces, cilantro and basil. It can also hide in fruit, such as fresh raspberries.

The symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, fever and other flu-like symptoms. It can last for weeks, and antibiotics are needed to kill the parasite.

Health officials said they have traced the incident only to catered events, not to any restaurants at this point.

The caterers are working with the Health Department. It doesn't appear the problem is being caused by the way caterers are handling food. Officials believe the food got to them that way.

Right now, health officials aren't saying whether the problem is being caused by a single source or multiple sources.

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