October 28, 2013 — According to an update from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the outbreak of Cyclospora food poisoning from June-August 2013 appears to have ended. Imported salad from Mexico was blamed for illnesses in the Midwest, but investigators ruled out this source in Texas. They are now blaming fresh cilantro from Puebla, Mexico as the likely source of illnesses.
In Texas, at least 278 cases of food poisoning were linked to the outbreak. The investigators found that 30 people reported eating at the same Mexican restaurant in Fort Bend County, Texas, before getting sick. Of these 22 were confirmed to be infected with the Cyclospora parasite, and 8 were probably infected based on symptoms.
In a study, fresh cilantro was the only ingredient consumed by 25 people who got sick. Cooked cilantro in salsa was not associated with illnesses.
Investigators also identified two other Mexican restaurants in Central Texas where illnesses were linked to fresh cilantro from Puebla, Texas. Another cluster of illnesses at a grocery store in North Texas linked four illnesses to fresh cilantro purchased at the store.
According to the CDC report:
“During interviews with ill persons in Texas, about 50% reported having eaten fresh cilantro 2–14 days before they became ill. This proportion was significantly higher than that reported among ill persons in Iowa and Nebraska (reported by about 10%), and significantly higher than results from a previously conducted survey of healthy persons in New Mexico where 27% reported eating fresh cilantro in the 7 days before they were interviewed.”
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