Texas health officials have reported an additional eight cases of cyclosporiasis today, bringing the total case count to 143. Officials note that 131 of the cases have occurred during the past two weeks.
Although the source of the outbreak has not been discovered, Travis County health officials says it may be linked to at least one of four fresh herbs: cilantro, basil, parsley or mint, the Austin American Statesman reported.
“I think it (the produce) is predominantly from Mexico,” said Carole Barasch, spokeswoman for the Austin/Travis County Health and Human Services Department.
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. People who think they may have a Cyclospora infection should contact their health care provider.
DSHS recommends thoroughly washing fresh produce, but that may not entirely eliminate the risk because Cyclospora can be difficult to wash off. Cooking will kill the parasite.
Last year, Texas had 200 cases, some of which were associated with cilantro from the Puebla region in Mexico.