June 20, 2018

Cyclospora Sickens 84 in Texas

A cyclospora outbreak has sickened 84 people in Texas. The illnesses have been reported from 20 counties. Travis County, which includes the city of Austin, has reported the most cases with 37.

Cyclospora OutbreakCyclospora is a parasite normally found in tropical or sub-tropical areas. If ingested in its mature state, the parasite causes an infection called cyclosporiasis.  Only about 150 of these infections are reported nationwide each year, most of which are  associated with travel.

Symptoms of cyclosporiasis can last two months and include diarrhea, abdominal cramping, bloating, gas, nausea, fatigue, loss of appetite, weight loss, vomiting, body aches, low-grade fever, and other flu-like symptoms.  Treatment with the antibiotic combination Trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole (TMP/SMX),  sold under the brand names Bactrim, Septra and Cotrim, can clear up the infection.

This is the third straight year that Texas has experienced a Cyclospora outbreak. The previous outbreaks were linked to cilantro imported form the the Puebla region of Mexico. In 2014, at least 126 people were sickened, the 2013 outbreak included 270 Texans.

Health officials have not determined the source of this outbreak. Cyclospora is difficult to wash off of produce. Cooking produce can kill the parasite.

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