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Cyclospora outbreak source still unknown

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By Joe Whitworth+

Last updated on 30-Jul-2014 at 10:25 GMT

Past outbreaks have been traced to fresh produce
Past outbreaks have been traced to fresh produce

The Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) has reported 110 cases of Cyclospora infection but admitted it is still unsure of the source.

25 cases are from pending or unknown counties of residences, 21 from Dallas and 11 from Tarrant.

Symptoms of Cyclosporiasis begin two to 14 days after ingestion of contaminated food or water.  

Past outbreaks have been traced to fresh imported produce, such as an outbreak of 631 cases from 25 states last year.

Difficult to wash off

DSHS encouraged people to wash produce thoroughly, though that may not eliminate the risk.

“Cyclospora can be difficult to wash off all types of produce,” said Russell Jones, TCPH chief epidemiologist.

“To reduce your risk, we recommend thoroughly washing produce before consumption. Produce that is cooked is not a concern. It’s the raw produce like cilantro and salads that can be a problem.”

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) told the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP) 202 cases have been reported as of this week.

The agency added that 19 states are now affected including California, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, Virginia, and Wisconsin.

Symptoms may include diarrhoea, anorexia, fatigue, weight loss, abdominal cramps, bloating, increased gas, nausea, vomiting, and low grade fever.

2013 outbreak

A total of 631 persons infected with Cyclospora cayetanensis were reported from 25 states and New York City last year.

Most persons became ill between mid-June and mid-July.

Eight percent (8%) of ill persons were hospitalized, and no deaths were reported.

Ill persons ranged in age from less than 1 year to 94 years, with a median age of 52 years.

Results from outbreak investigations indicated that there was more than one outbreak during June–August 2013 in the US.

Public health officials in Iowa and Nebraska performed investigations and concluded that restaurant-associated cases of cyclosporiasis were linked to a salad mix produced by Taylor Farms de Mexico.

Epidemiologic and traceback investigations in Texas by state and local public health and regulatory officials, the FDA, and CDC indicated that some illnesses among Texas residents were linked to fresh cilantro from Puebla, Mexico.

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