A close up of the cylospora parasite, which is the cause of the outbreak. (Source: CBS 5 News)
PHOENIX (CBS5) -
A new stomach bug has already hit nine states. More than 275 people are sick, and experts here in Arizona say you don't want to be one of them.
"What you really want to be looking for is watery diarrhea, potentially explosive bouts of diarrhea, abdominal cramping and some fatigue," said Jessica Rigler with the Arizona Department of Health Services.
Rigler said the outbreak is likely due to a tiny parasite that can be found on certain foods from overseas.
"Most of the outbreaks we've seen in the past have been associated with fresh produce that have been imported from other countries," she said.
No one has been sickened in Arizona, but Rigler and her team are keeping a close eye on the bug. They are also in constant communication with other health departments throughout the United States.
"Our epidemiologists are like detectives. They really do have to do investigations, interviews and cases and that sort of thing. (They are trying) to unravel that mystery to see if they can crack that case and solve the outbreak," she said.
If the new stomach bug makes its way to Arizona, scientists at the state's public health lab are ready to analyze and report the bug to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
"We can have them take that image, and we can have them show that over the internet," explained lab bureau chief Dr. Victor Waddell.
Though no cases have been reported in Arizona, experts say it's still a good idea to wash your hands often as well as any produce purchased before eating.
Copyright 2013 CBS 5 (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.
Contamination in 12 types of food made a $14 billion dent in healthcare bills in 2011. The Emerging Pathogens Institute of the University of Florida released a list of the foods with the highest disease burdens, ranked in order of total cost of illness.More >