July 24, 2014 — Federal health officials are investigating 125 cases of food poisoning in 13 states that has been linked to Cyclospora, according to a report from the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy.
The source of the outbreak has not been discovered.
The majority of the infections have been reported in Texas, where health officials in the Dallas-Fort Worth have confirmed 61 cases in the last month. Illnesses are under investigation in Texas, Maine, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, Montana, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, and Tennessee.
Last summer, an outbreak of Cyclospora sickened 631 people in 25 states. Texas was the hardest-hit state, with 351 cases of food poisoning. Epidemiologists traced some infections in Texas to cilantro that was imported from Mexico. Health officials in Iowa and Nebraska traced other illnesses to pre-packaged salad mix that also came from Mexico.
Until recently, Cyclospora infections were very uncommon and the number of cases in each outbreak was very low. This is why most clinics do not routinely test for Cyclospora in stool samples. Unfortunately, people who are not diagnosed and treated can suffer chronic bouts of watery diarrhea lasting for weeks ore even months.
It is unclear why outbreaks are becoming more common. Cyclospora is a parasite that causes infections in people who consume contaminated food or water. Person-to-person transmission is rare. In the past, outbreaks have been traced to fresh produce, including lettuce, raspberries, snow peas, and basil — usually imported from subtropical regions where sanitation is poor.
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