AUSTIN (KXAN) — Texas health officials say they are investigating 56 cases of illness due to the cyclospora parasite since the beginning of May.
The Department of State Health Services says it is working with local health departments around the state and country after seeing an outbreak of cyclosporiasis, which is an intestinal illness caused by consuming food or water contaminated with the microscopic parasite.
Watery diarrhea is the main symptom, lasting a few days to a few months. Additional symptoms may include loss of appetite, fatigue, weight loss, abdominal cramps, bloating, increased gas, nausea, vomiting and a low fever.
The department says symptoms may come and go multiple times over a period of weeks or months. Anyone with symptoms that sound like they could be related to cyclospora should contact their local healthcare provider.
Past outbreaks have been associated with imported fresh produce, including pre-packaged salad mix, raspberries, basil, snow peas and mesclun greens, the state health department said, including Texas' multiple outbreaks linked to cilantro.
DSHS recommends thoroughly washing all fresh produce, but that may not entirely eliminate the risk because cyclospora can be very difficult to wash off.
Cooking will kill the parasite. The department says infection is generally not transmitted directly from person-to-person.
There were 319 cases of cyclosporiasis in Texas reported last year.