Public health nurse Meredith Hurley has one clear message – wash your hands when handling fruits and vegetables, or after a bathroom break, or risk the gastrointestinal issues that come with cycolspora.
Normally, there are 18 to 33 cases per year statewide reported to the state Department of Public Health. This year there have been 100 cases statewide since May.
According to Hurley, two Winthrop residents became ill with the cycolspora parasite and are included in the state numbers.
“Typically, it is transmitted by being ingested,” Hurley said, adding that there were no links between the Winthrop cases.
Those at greatest risk may have a compromised immune system or be in the elderly population. Proper food handling at home and in restaurants is also a deterrent.
Symptoms include watery diarrhea, loss of appetite, nausea and fatigue.
“The key is to wash your hands before and after handling fruits and vegetables. Refrigerate food as soon as possible. Don’t leave food out for more than two hours,” Hurley said, adding that BBQs and a dirty grill can also be a haven for the parasite.