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Cyclospora illnesses prompt investigation
A recent surge in reports of illnesses due to the parasite cyclospora has prompted the Texas Department of State Health Services to begin an investigation into the infections in hopes of determining a common source. According to a July 23 press release, the Health Department has received reports of 77 cyclosporiasis cases from around Texas this year, including 69 in the last month.
Cyclosporiasis is an intestinal illness caused by consuming food or water contaminated with the cyclospora parasite. The major symptom is watery diarrhea lasting a few days to a few months. Additional symptoms may include loss of appetite, fatigue, weight loss, abdominal cramps, bloating, increased gas, nausea, vomiting, and a low fever. Symptoms may come and go multiple times over a period of weeks.
People who think they may have a cyclospora infection should contact their health-care provider.
The Health Department recommends thoroughly washing fresh produce, but that may not entirely eliminate the risk because cyclospora can be difficult to wash off. Cooking will kill the parasite.
Past outbreaks in the United States have been associated with imported fresh produce, including pre-packaged salad mix, raspberries, basil, snow peas, cilantro, and mesclun greens.
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