Texas has again been hit by a Cyclospora outbreak. Each year since 2013, produce contaminated with the parasite Cyclospora has sickened Texans during the summer months. Recently, more than a dozen cases of infections from the parasite have been reported in North Texas counties, according to NBC 5 in Dallas – Ft Worth.
Illnesses have been reported from Dallas, Tarrant, Collin and Denton counties, according to the station. A food source has not yet been identified.
Cyclospora is a parasite normally found in subtropical climates. Symptoms of an infection form the parasite, called cyclosporiasis, include profuse, often explosive, diarrhea that can last for as long as 70 days. Other cyclosporiasis symptoms, which can also last 70 days, include abdominal cramps, bloating, gas, nausea, fatigue, loss of appetite, weight loss, vomiting, body aches, low-grade fever, and other flu-like symptoms.
Produce from Mexico was the source of Cyclospora outbreaks in 2013, 2014 and 2015. In 2013, some of the illnesses were linked to tainted bagged salads, in 2014 and 2015 illnesses were linked to contaminated cilantro.
In 2015, a 31-state Cyclospora outbreak that sickened 546 was the second-largest multistate food poisoning outbreak of the year. Some of the illnesses were linked to fresh cilantro imported from Puebla, Mexico. Other food sources were not identified.
A cyclospora outbreak that sickened more than 304 people in 19 states was the largest multistate food poisoning outbreak of 2014. The food source, cilantro, was only identified for cases in Texas. In a 2013, a cyclospora outbreak that sickened 643 people in 25 states, a food source was only identified in Iowa, Nebraska and Texas.In each of these outbreaks, Texas has been hard hit.
After cilantro from Puebla Mexico was also identified as the source of the 2014 outbreak, inspectors from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) visited the implicated growing area and found human waste and toilet paper in the cilantro fields. The FDA then placed an import alert on cilantro form that area. Although the alert essentially banned cilantro from area from being imported to the U.S., the product still made its way in and was marketed as being from another area, according to a lawsuit filed by produce wholesaler Farmers Friend.
Washing produce can’t remove all of the cyclospora. Cooking is the only way it can be destroyed.