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Crypto Illnesses in Johnson County

JOHNSON COUNTY, IA (CBS 2/FOX 28) - Johnson County Public Health is investigating a cluster of illnesses caused by cryptosporidiosis (crypto), a disease resulting from a parasite that causes watery diarrhea, sometimes accompanied by nausea, vomiting, stomach cramps and low grade fever. People get the disease when they swallow the parasite. In this case, the cluster of crypto cases appears to be linked to unpasteurized apple cider. All of the ill persons are recovering and one was hospitalized.

You cant tell if cider is contaminated just by looking at it, said Doug Beardsley, Johnson County Public Health director. In fact, there is no difference in smell or taste either. The key to preventing illness associated with apple cider is purchasing product that has been pasteurized, or by heating unpasteurized apple cider to at least 170F or until it boils.

Public health officials are urging the public not to consume unpasteurized apple cider.  Unpasteurized products may be purchased as freshly pressed from local orchards, roadside stands, local stores, or farmers markets and include an individuals own apples processed by a private press. They may also be found on ice or in refrigerated display cases, and in produce sections at grocery stores. Do not assume that because the juice is hot or bottled that it is safe for consumption. Complete pasteurization is necessary to kill germs that can cause serious illness. If product labeling is unclear, ask the location owners or operators whether the juice or cider being offered has been pasteurized.  Unpasteurized apple cider may be sold but must be labeled to clearly show that it has not been pasteurized.

In addition to crypto, unpasteurized apple cider may contain other germs which could cause illness.  All of these germs are especially dangerous to the very young and those who are immune-compromised.

If you suspect that you have become ill from drinking unpasteurized apple cider or if you see unlabeled cider being sold, contact Johnson County Public Health at 356-6040.  For more information about food-borne illnesses, visit

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