Stomach bug strikes 7 states - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Stomach bug strikes 7 states

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ATLANTA -

Don't worry, your apples and plums, pears and cucumbers are probably safe. But a nasty bug typically linked to produce is creeping its way into Georgia.

"I personally never had a problem," Malena Perez said.

A foodborne parasite known as cyclospora has sent more than 275 people to the hospital in seven different states. Medical authorities say tainted produce was to blame in prior outbreaks.

"I'm not too concerned about it," Perez said.

Perez says the scare won't stop her from buying produce. She's already careful.

"I wash everything before I eat it," she said.

So far, fewer than five cases have been reported in Georgia, none in metro Atlanta.

"It's a pretty nasty bug," said Dr. John Ouderkirk of Atlanta Medical Center.

Ouderkirk is an infectious disease specialist. He says the symptoms can be ugly.

"Nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramping, often explosive diarrhea," he said.

Ouderkirk says the parasite is typically found in tropical regions on produce tainted by fecal waste.

"Most likely it's going to be a fruit or vegetable that's implicated, but we don't know for sure," Ouderkirk said.

The good news is the illness is easily treatable with common antibiotics and preventable with common sense.

"Hand-washing is very important, washing fruits and vegetables," Ouderkirk said.

"It's also important to keep you immune system up when anything is going around," Perez said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the infection has been reported in Iowa, Nebraska, Texas, Wisconsin, Georgia, Connecticut and New Jersey. Most of the illnesses occurred from mid-June to early July. Click here for more information on cyclospora.

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