Iowa ‘crypto cluster’ linked to unpasteurized apple cider

The parasitic infection, cryptosporidiosis, has been reported in high numbers in the Hawkeye State this year topping 1,000 cases. To add to that number is the latest cluster reported out of Johnson County, IA.


Cryptosporidium Life Cycle/CDC

Cryptosporidium Life Cycle/CDC

Johnson County Public Health is investigating a cluster of illnesses caused by cryptosporidiosis (‘crypto’), which has sickened at least 11, with one requiring hospitalization.

Health officials have linked the “cluster” to the consumption of unpasteurized apple cider prompting health officials to warn the public.

“You can’t 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 170°F 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 farmer’s markets and include an individual’s 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 Cryptosporidium, unpasteurized cider can contain E. coli O157:H7, Salmonella, and other pathogens.

Many of the “crypto” cases in Iowa this year have been linked to swimming. The most recent official numbers posted on the Iowa Department of Health website from Sep.12 says there has been 861 cases.

However, the website, Food Poisoning Bulletin reports that number now exceeds 1,200.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says Cryptosporidium is a microscopic parasite that causes the diarrheal disease cryptosporidiosis. Both the parasite and the disease are commonly known as “Crypto.”

There are many species of Cryptosporidium that infect humans and animals. The parasite is protected by an outer shell that allows it to survive outside the body for long periods of time and makes it very tolerant to chlorine disinfection.

While this parasite can be spread in several different ways, water (drinking water and recreational water) is the most common method of transmission. Cryptosporidium is one of the most frequent causes of waterborne disease among humans in the United States.

For more infectious disease news and information, visit and “like” the Infectious Disease News Facebook page


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About the Author

- Writer, Co-Founder and Executive Editor of The Global Dispatch. Robert has been covering news in the areas of health, world news and politics for a variety of online news sources. He is also the Editor-in-Chief of the website, Outbreak News Today and hosts the podcast, Outbreak News Interviews on iTunes, Stitcher and Spotify Robert is politically Independent and a born again Christian Follow @bactiman63

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