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Illnesses from Foodborne Parasite Spike in Texas

Cyclospora cayetanensis

Over the past month, The Texas Department of State Health Services has seen a spike in the intestinal illnessthat comes from consuming food or water contaminated with Cyclospora parasites.

Chris Van Deusen, a spokesman for the Department of State Health Services, says the outbreaks have been most common in Texas’  major cities, but that there are enough cases outside the metro areas to make finding the source of the outbreak troublesome.

"We're working with local officials to try to figure out if there’s one single source of these infections and what that source may be," Van Deusen said.

The most likely culprit is imported fresh produce, including fresh pre-packaged salad mix, raspberries, basil, snow peas, and mesclun greens. Texas has had multiple outbreaks linked to cilantro.

The main symptom of cyclosporiasis is watery diarrhea lasting a few days to a few months. Other symptoms, including nausea and intestinal distress can come and go multiple times over a period of weeks or months.

Scott Morgan has been an award-winning journalist since 2001. His work has appeared in several newspapers and magazines as well as online. He has also been an editor, freelancer, speaker, writing teacher, author, and podcaster.