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Fresh produce could be cause of parasitic infection outbreak

wkrc, July 20, 2017

AUSTIN, Texas (WKRC) - Health officials in Texas say popular produce items could be the source of a recent outbreak of a parasitic infection in the state.

The Cyclospora parasite clings to fresh produce like salads, leafy greens, basil, snow peas, raspberries and cilantro. 

There has been a recent outbreak of this parasitic infection in Texas as well as in British Columbia and Ontario, Canada. As of Monday, at least 68 cases of Cyclospora infections have been reported in Texas. As of July 14, cases in Canada have risen to 57. 

In Texas, the Department of Health can't link the outbreak to any one thing, but in the past the outbreaks have been linked to cilantro, a popular herb found in many Mexican and Asian dishes.

Eating food containing the parasite could cause severe intestinal illness, with symptoms like diarrhea that lasts a few days to a few months, loss of appetite, cramps, bloating, gas, weight loss, low fever, nausea and vomiting.

While the rise in cases have been in Texas and Canada, imported produce have caused past outbreaks elsewhere. Ohio was impacted by an outbreak of Cyclospora in 2013.

While washing produce is may not completely get rid of the risk of contracting the infection, it is still strongly recommended. Officials also say you should wash your hands after handling produce while cooking.