Texas state health officials are investigating 56 cases of illness due to the parasite Cyclospora since the beginning of May. They are collaborating with local health departments and health departments from other states to determine whether there is a common source for the infections.
Previous outbreaks of cyclosporiasis have been associated with consumption of imported fresh produce, including: fresh cilantro, pre-packaged salad mix, raspberries, basil, snow peas, and mesclun lettuce. Texas has had multiple outbreaks linked to cilantro.
Cyclosporiasis is an intestinal illness caused by consuming food or water contaminated with the microscopic Cyclospora parasite. The main 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 or months.
People with symptoms that could be related to Cyclospora should contact their health care provider for treatment.
Health officials recommend thoroughly washing all fresh produce, but that may not entirely eliminate the risk because Cyclospora can be very difficult to wash off. Cooking will kill the parasite. Infection is generally not transmitted directly from person-to-person. There were 319 cases of cyclosporiasis in Texas reported last year.
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