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Public Health Investigation Prompted Following Parasite Outbreak in Texas and Other States

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Texas public health officials have stated that an outbreak of cyclosporiasis, which is an intestinal parasitic infection, has taken place in Texas, among other states, and an investigation is now underway. Caused by the parasite cyclospora, the infection has been on record as happening in this state since May of this year. 56 cases of it have been reported to date.

“There could easily be 10 times more than that that aren’t getting diagnosed,” Dr. Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine, has told click2houston.com. “This has been pretty much a recurring theme lately here in the U.S.; pretty regular outbreaks mostly from imported fruits and vegetables, mostly coming from Latin America,” he noted.

Public Health Investigation Prompted Following Parasite Outbreak in Texas and Other States

Photo: U.S. Department of Defense

At this time, local and state health departments are in the process of working with the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) and other necessary organizations to determine the source of the outbreak. According to the DSHS, this infection is an intestinal illness which results from the consumption of water or food that is contaminated by a tiny parasite. The symptoms can vary and may last for a few days or up to a few months, coming and going throughout that time period. They include:

  • watery diarrhea
  • loss of appetite
  • fatigue
  • weight loss
  • abdominal cramps
  • bloating
  • increased gas
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • low fever

Those who are known to have such symptoms are asked to contact their local healthcare provider for appropriate testing and treatment. DSHS is presently requesting that all providers test those who have diarrhea that lasts for a few days, in conjunction with other such symptoms identified on this list. In the interim, everyone is advised to thoroughly wash all fresh produce to avoid contamination, however, cooking will also kill the parasite. For the most part, this infection is transmitted through food which is contaminated. Over the course of the last year, 300 cases of cyclosporiasis were reported in Texas.