Another 123 McDonald’s customers have contracted a sickness that causes ‘explosive diarrhea’ after eating one of the chain’s salads.
It means at least 236 Americans have been sickened by the dishes – 11 of whom needed hospital care, the CDC confirms.
When the outbreak was first reported in May, it was localized to Illinois and Iowa.
Now, it has spread to 15 states – but McDonald’s has not yet identified the offending ingredient, since infections had been linked to all four of the salads on the menu.
What is clear is that all of the victims had contracted cyclosporiasis, caused by the Cyclospora parasite, which causes vomiting and ‘explosive’ diarrhea a week or even more than a month after eating the offending food.
More than 230 people in 15 states have been sickened by McDonald’s salads. Pictured: the Southwest Grilled Chicken Salad (350 calories)
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which deals with regulation, said on Thursday that agents are working with McDonald’s to understand what the source of the infection could be.
Meanwhile, agents at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which deals with citizens’ health, is grappling to tally up all of the cases.
‘Illnesses that started after June 14, 2018, might not have been reported yet due to the time it takes between when a person becomes ill and when the illness is reported. For cyclospora infections, this can take up to six weeks,’ the CDC said in a statement.
They warn the number may be much higher than currently quoted, since they are still fielding all the reports since July 14.
Currently, outbreaks have been reported in Florida, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin. Connecticut, Michigan, Tennessee and Virginia residents have also reported illnesses, but those salads were bought in Illinois while traveling.
Nationwide, there are four salads on the menu – two indulgent ones, and two ‘healthier’ versions – as well as a side salad.
The Bacon Ranch Salad with Buttermilk Crispy Chicken (490 calories) features chicken fillet, bacon, and two types of cheese, as well as romaine, kale, baby spinach, red leaf lettuce, carrots, tomatoes – topped off with ranch dressing.
There is also a Bancon Ranch Grilled Chicken Salad (320 calories), which is the same but with grilled instead of breaded chicken.
The Southwest Buttermilk Crispy Chicken Salad (520) pairs the breaded chicken with black beans, corn, tomatoes, and peppers with two types of cheese, tortillas strips cilantro, lime and ranch dressing – on top of the same lettuce blend as before.
Lastly, there is the Southwest Grilled Chicken Salad (350 calories), swapping out the buttermilk crumbs for a grilled fillet.
The salads have been a significant part of McDonald’s bid to jump on the health-conscious bandwagon – though they are not that much healthier compared to the rest of the menu. A double cheeseburger has 440 calories, and a Bacon McDouble has 450 calories.
The Iowa Public Health Department said it identified 15 cases linked to the same illness and parasite who ate there in June and July.
Dr Patricia Quinlisk, Iowa’s public health medical director and epidemiologist, said anyone with symptoms who ate a McDonald’s salad should get tested.
‘Anyone who ate these salads since the middle of June and who developed diarrhea, especially watery diarrhea and fatigue, should see their health care provider,’ she said.
McDonald’s replaced its lettuce blend on July 20, after pulling a blend from 3,000 stores in 15 states that they feared might be to blame.
It remains to be seen whether that will do the trick.
Symptoms of Cyclospora infection include watery diarrhea, loss of appetite and weight, cramping, bloating or increased gas, nausea, fatigue, and low-grade fever.
People can become infected by consuming food or water contaminated with the microscopic parasite.
The parasite is usually found in developing countries but there have been several outbreaks in the U.S. in the past few years.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which deals with citizens’ health, is grappling to tally up all of the cases