A Cyclospora outbreak in Texas has grown to include 151 people. Most of the illnesses have been reported within the last month and almost half of them have occurred in Travis County, which includes the city Austin.
Cyclosporiasis, an intestinal illness caused by consuming food or water contaminated with the Cyclospora parasite, causes watery diarrhea lasting a few days to a few months. Other symptoms include loss of appetite, fatigue, weight loss, abdominal cramps, bloating, increased gas, nausea, vomiting and a low fever. Health officials urge anyone with these symptoms should contact their health care provider.
Cyclospora is a parasite normally found in tropical or sub-tropical areas. Food can become contaminated with Cyclospora through unsanitary conditions at any point on its journey from farm to table.
Nationwide, only 150 cases of cyclosporiasis are typically reported each year. But there have been other outbreaks in recent years. In 2013 and 2014, cilantro imported from Mexico was linked to outbreaks in Texas. Many who became ill ate restaurant foods that contained the contaminated ingredient. Another outbreak in 2013 was linked to bagged salad served at restaurants in Nebraska and Iowa. Other outbreaks have been linked to f raspberries, snow peas, basil, and mesclun.
Cyclospora can be difficult to wash off, but washing produce under cold running water and then drying it is one of the best ways to reduce contamination from parasites and bacteria. Cooking will kill the parasite.