One year ago was the beginning of an outbreak of the parasitic protozoan parasite, Cyclospora, which in the end infected a total of 631 persons from 25 states and New York City. Texas accounted for the most cases in the multistate outbreak with 270 cases.

Four Cyclospora oocysts from fresh stool stained using a modified acid-fast stain. Image/CDC (DPDx)
Four Cyclospora oocysts from fresh stool stained using a modified acid-fast stain.
Image/CDC (DPDx)

Health officials yesterday advised health providers to test patients for cyclosporiasis if they have any prolonged diarrhea, or severe diarrhea  accompanied with severe anorexia or fatigue following the reports of a spike of the parasitic infection seen during the past month.

A Tarrant County Public Health news release yesterday notes 61 cyclospora cases have been reported to the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) during the past month (eight in Tarrant County). Prior to the past month, only eight cases were reported statewide.

Health officials say there is no common exposure source linked to the increase in cases. Historically, outbreaks of cyclosporiasis have been linked to the consumption of imported fresh produce–raspberries, cilantro, pre-packaged salad mix and basil.

“Cyclospora can be difficult to wash off all types of produce,” according to Tarrant County Public Health  Chief Epidemiologist, Russell Jones. “To reduce your risk, we recommend thoroughly washing produce prior to consumption. Produce that is cooked is not a concern. It’s the raw produce like cilantro and salads that can be a problem.”

Symptoms of cyclosporiasis usually begin two to 14 days after ingestion of contaminated food or water. Diarrhea can last weeks to months, and may relapse. Infection is generally not transmitted from person-to-person.

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