July 10, 2015 — Health officials in Texas are still trying to track down the source of a Cyclospora outbreak that has sickened at least 143 people, with about half of those cases reported in Travis County.
Health officials note that all but a few cases were reported in the last two weeks. They believe the outbreak may be linked to at least one of four fresh herbs: cilantro, basil, parsley, or mint, according to the Austin American-Statesman.
“I think it (the produce) is predominantly from Mexico,” said Carole Barasch, spokeswoman for the Austin/Travis County Health and Human Services Department.
This is at least the third Cyclospora outbreak in Texas in the last three years. Last year, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) confirmed over 200 illnesses, with most cases occurring in Texas in July 2014. Many illnesses were linked to fresh cilantro from Puebla, Mexico.
In 2013, another outbreak of Cyclospora sickened at least 631 people from 25 states, of which 8% were hospitalized. Health officials in Iowa and Nebraska confirmed that restaurant-associated cases were linked to a salad mix produced by Taylor Farms de Mexico. Other illnesses in Texas were linked to fresh cilantro from Puebla, Mexico.
Cyclospora cayetanensis is a single-celled, microscopic parasite that causes an intestinal infection. Until recently, it was usually seen in travelers to tropical or subtropical regions. In the United States, food poisoning outbreaks have been linked to imported fresh produce.
Symptoms of infection may include:
- Watery diarrhea, with frequent (sometimes explosive) bowel movements)
- Loss of appetite
- Stomach cramps/pain
- Increased gas
- Nausea and vomiting
- Body aches and headache
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