Texas has been hit with a case of cyclospriasis, a nasty gastrointestinal illness transmitted by infected feces in water and food. A total of 54 Texans have had the parasite this year and 42 of those got sick in the last two weeks as crappy food causes queasy Texans.
No source for this unpleasant condition has yet been pinpointed. There was an outbreak in 2013 during which, 270 people took ill. That outbreak was linked to bagged salad mix, basil, raspberries, snow peas, mesclun lettuce and fresh cilantro. The Texas Department of State Health Services advises that thorough washing may help only cooking will kill the Cyclospora parasite. Fortunately, the infection is not transmitted directly from person-to-person.
How do you know if the bug has bitten you?
Cyclosporiasis symptoms typically start two to fourteen days after you eat or drink the contaminated food or water. Symptoms include:
- Watery diarrhea
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss
- Abdominal cramps
- Increased gas
- Low-grade fever
Frighteningly, the diarrhea may last weeks to months and can even recur after it stops.
The Texas Department of State Health Services is asking all healthcare providers to test their patients for cyclosporiasis is the patients complain of diarrhea lasting more than a few days or accompanied by severe vomiting or fatigue.
“Diagnosis of cyclosporiasis requires submission of stoolspecimensfor “Ova and Parasite” testing with additional specific orders for Cyclospora identification. Asingle negative stool specimen does not exclude the diagnosis; three specimens areoptimal,” per the department.
The best things you can do are thoroughly wash and cook your produce. Report any of the above symptoms to your healthcare provider immediately as untreated cylosporiasis can lead to severe dehydration due to the excessive diarrhea.