Austin and other cities in Travis County, Texas have been hard hit by a Cyclospora outbreak this summer. More than 70 people in Travis County have been sickened by the rare parasite that causes an infection called cyclosporiasis.
Cyclospora is a parasite that lives in tropical and subtropical regions. For the last two years Texans have been sickened by cilantro imported from Mexico that was contaminated with Cyclospora. Many of them became ill after visiting restaurants where they ate items containing the contaminated ingredient.
Produce can become contaminated with Cyclospora through unsanitary conditions at any point from its journey from farm to table. It is difficult to remove Cyclospora by washing produce, but cooking it will kill the parasite.
The main symptom of cyclosporiasis is watery diarrhea that can last up to two months. Other symptoms include loss of appetite, fatigue, weight loss, abdominal cramps, bloating, increased gas, nausea, vomiting and a low fever. Anyone with these symptoms should see their health care provider.