July 10, 2020

Texas Cyclospora Outbreak Sickens 230

The cyclospora outbreak in Texas has now sickened at least 230 people as of August 15, 2017. The outbreak began mid June 2017.

People are sick in 45 counties in that state, and seven are ill in “county pending or unknown.” The counties with the most cyclosporiasis cases include Bexar (30), Dallas (12), Fort Bend (10), Harris (59), and Travis (20).

Woman Stomach Ache

Public health officials have not yet identified a common source in this outbreak. Past cyclospora food poisoning outbreaks have been linked to imported fresh produce, such as cilantro, mesclun, raspberries, basil, and snow peas. Officials are interviewing patients and asking them about the foods they ate the weeks before they got sick.

Cyclospora oocytes sicken people after they have been shed in feces. The illness is not spread person-to-person. The immature oocysts need one week under favorable conditions to sporulate, or become infectious. People usually get sick after eating food imported from tropical or subtropical regions, or after living or traveling in those parts of the world.

The symptoms of cyclosporiasis include watery diarrhea that can be frequent and explosive, loss of appetite, weight loss, stomach cramps and pain, bloating, increased gas, nausea, fatigue, vomiting, body aches, headache, and fever. These symptoms can recur for months at a time. The illness can be treated with a combination of antibiotics, but if a patient is allergic to sulfa drugs, there is no highly effective alternative treatment.

Public health officials are telling consumers to thoroughly wash all produce before eating it. But the oocysts can be very difficult to remove from produce, especially herbs and leafy greens. Cooking will kill the parasite. Some experts think that peeling fruits and vegetables can make them safer to eat.

You can also prevent this infection by only drinking water from a safe source, and by washing your hands well after using the bathroom, changing diapers, and taking care of someone who is sick, especially with a diarrheal illness. If someone in your household is sick, disinfect soiled clothes or soiled sheets.

And if you do get sick with these symptoms, see your doctor. Resting and making sure you stay hydrated are crucial for recovery.

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