Illnesses caused by the parasite Cyclospora continue to rise in Texas

AUSTIN August 7s, 2018 - As of Monday, state health officials have reported 122 cases throughout Texas, with large clusters reported in Bexar, Harris and Travis counties.

The Department of State Health Services (DSHS) continues to investigate the illnesses, and urges physicians to continue to do laboratory testing on patients who are experiencing watery diarrhea that lasts more than a few days, relapses, or occurs along with a sudden lack of appetite or fatigue.

Original story: Cyclosporiasis is no longer a problem only outside the United States. It’s becoming more common in Texas — especially during summer.

State health officials are investigating 56 cases of illness due to the parasite Cyclospora since the beginning of May, officials with the Department of State Health Services (DSHS) say. DSHS has been working with health departments in Texas and other affected states to determine whether there is a common source for the infections, officials say.

Between 2001 and 2011, Texas cyclosporiasis cases remained in the single or low double digits, DSHS says. However, 351 cases were reported in 2013, the most of any state. That number then dropped to 200 in 2014 but jumped up again to 315 in 2015, DSHS reports. There were 319 cases reported last year, DSHS says. 

In an effort to track the outbreak’s origins and to help prevent additional cases, DSHS issued a health advisory last month for physicians and health care providers to consider cyclosporiasis infection in patients who are experiencing watery diarrhea that lasts more than a few days, relapses, or occurs along with a sudden lack of appetite or fatigue. 

Some infected people might not have symptoms, but others can have significant symptoms, such as low-grade fever, vomiting, nausea, and fatigue. 

Travel outside of the U.S. to areas known to have high rates of infection (mostly tropical and subtropical regions of the globe) is an important risk factor, but many recent cases of cyclosporiasis have been reported without a recent history of travel. 

The latest outbreaks in the U.S. have been due to contaminated fresh produce such as raspberries, basil, snow peas, mesclun greens, and cilantro. Cyclosporiasis also can occur after consuming water contaminated with feces. 

Prevent infection by washing all fresh produce, keeping up with any contamination or product recall notices, and avoiding consumption of untreated water. 

Special laboratory testing must be done within one week to diagnose cyclosporiasis. For more information on how to test, see DSHS’ website. Treatment for cyclosporiasis is typically trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole (Bactrim®).

Find more information on cyclosporiasis on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's website

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