McDonald’s is being investigated by the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) after the fast food franchise’s salads allegedly caused a parasitic outbreak in mid-May.
Across two states, more than 100 people have gotten sick following the ingestion of McDonald’s salads. Illinois and Iowa residents have suffered from cyclosporiasis, an illness caused by ingestion of the cyclospora parasite that lives in the digestive tract of its hosts.
Though it has not yet been released whether or not McDonald’s is responsible for the outbreak, the residents all claimed to have eaten the salads before getting sick. This number could be even higher; one in three people go to work, even if they have cold-like symptoms.
As of Friday, July 13, McDonald’s has stopped selling their salads at affected locations. The fast food service is cooperating with the CDC, FDA, and IDPH and plans to change their produce provider that supplies the restaurant with the lettuce blend.
The director of the IDPH, Dr. Nirav D. Shah, explains that they have been looking into other sources regarding the outbreak.
“Although a link has been made to salads sold in McDonald’s restaurants in some Illinois cases, public health officials continue to investigate other sources,” he said in an interview.
How can you tell if you’ve been affected by the cyclospora parasite? Here are the symptoms of infection:
- Watery diarrhea
- Loss of weight and/or appetite
- Cramps, bloat
- Nausea (though vomiting is uncommon)
- Low-grade fever (less than 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit)
If you have experienced any of these symptoms after ingesting lettuce or salads from your local Illinois or Iowa state McDonald’s, visit a health professional right away. This is especially important if you have a weakened immune system, are young, or elderly.
Without proper antibiotics this illness can persist to a month or longer. While it is unknown if McDonald’s will be held responsible for the outbreak.