Texas Hill Country Sees Outbreak of Parasite Related to Food Poisoning

Texas health officials have been busy investigating an outbreak of cyclosporiasis, also known as food poisoning. According to the Austin American-Statesman, this strain of the illness is parasite-borne and can cause symptoms like fatigue, nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, fever and more. It is commonly spread when human feces contaminated with the parasite come into contact with water or produce. There are more than 250 different food-borne diseases, but cyclosporiasis is among the most common that are closely tracked by health agencies.

According to the Texas Department of State Health Services, from early June to mid-July, close to 70 cases of cyclosporiasis have been reported, with eight in Travis County alone.

Health department spokesman Chris Van Deusen explained in a statement that the department is talking with the infected residents to track down the source of the illness.

The illness typically comes from imported foods and several outbreaks in recent years were caused by contaminated shipments of cilantro from Mexico, an ingredient that is usually served raw. The best way to kill off parasites in food is to cook it, something not usually done with cilantro, since washing the parasite off isn’t possible.

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The office of  Texas Health and Human Service put new food safety regulations into effect October, 2015 to prevent outbreaks like this one.

Their mission is  “to protect the public health through the efficient operation of a comprehensive, progressive retail food protection program focusing on education, training, and oversight, which will ultimately reduce the potential for foodborne illness in Texas.”

While there are some treatments to aid in the relief of cyclosporiasis symptoms, according to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention,  “no highly effective alternative antibiotic regimen has been identified yet for patients who do not respond to the standard treatment or have a sulfa allergy.”

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