The Cyclospora illness outbreak being investigated by DSHS and local health departments in Texas along with the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Food and Drug Administration appears to have ended. The number of new illnesses being reported has returned to background levels, and the investigation has linked the cases in four restaurant clusters to cilantro imported from Puebla, Mexico.
Cyclosporiasis is an intestinal illness caused by consuming food or water contaminated with the Cyclospora parasite. The major symptom is watery diarrhea lasting a few days to a few months. Additional symptoms may include loss of appetite, fatigue, weight loss, abdominal cramps, bloating, increased gas, nausea, vomiting and a low fever. Symptoms may come and go multiple times over a period of weeks.
126 cases are considered part of the outbreak with an onset of illness after May 1 and no history of international travel within the two weeks before onset. Most cases occurred in June and July. However, it is unknown whether all illnesses are linked to cilantro. 166 total cyclosporiasis cases have been reported in Texas in 2014. Most of the cases are in residents of North Texas.
DSHS, in conjunction with local health departments, investigated four restaurant clusters in North Texas that included a total of 21 people who got ill. All 21 reported eating a food item from the restaurant containing cilantro within two weeks before becoming ill. A preliminary traceback investigation conducted by FDA and DSHS has identified Puebla, Mexico as the source of the cilantro that was served in all four restaurants. While the investigation has not found samples of cilantro contaminated with cyclospora, there is enough evidence to establish a strong epidemiological link between the illnesses and the cilantro. The state of Puebla was also identified as the source of fresh cilantro linked to a cyclosporiasis outbreak in 2013.