By CRISTIN REECE
An end of this summer’s cyclospora outbreaks seems to have been declared, but state and federal health officials are still stymied on the cause of more than 300 cases of the bug reported in Texas.
As of Sept., 20, a total of 643 cases of cyclospora infection have been reported from 25 states. Texas reported 311 cases as of Sept. 11 — the most of any other state reporting the bug. At least 45 people across the country were hospitalized for the illness, and no deaths were reported in connection with this outbreak, according to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention’s website.
Health professionals in Iowa and Nebraska reported the first cases of the intestinal parasite in June and have since linked cases in those states to tainted salad mix supplied to restaurants. The producer of the alleged tainted salad, Taylor Farms de Mexico, voluntarily suspended production of the product in question in August and the FDA’s investigation has not implicated consumer packages sold in grocery stores.
“This investigation is on-going,” Texas Department of State Health Services spokesperson Christine Mann said Wednesday. “Fortunately, the outbreak itself appears to be over. The most recent case reported was on Aug. 18.
“We’re continuing to work with the CDC and the FDA to identify a source. We haven’t found any common link between cases at this time, which means the cases here in Texas may not be related to the cases in Nebraska and Iowa.”
The restaurants’ parent company confirmed earlier in the investigation its Texas restaurants does not use produce from Taylor Farms de Mexico. A release published on the CDC’s website states, “The preliminary analysis of results from an investigation into a cluster of cases that ate at a Texas restaurant does not show a connection to Taylor Farms de Mexico. Although the investigation of cases continues, available evidence suggests that not all of the cases of cyclosporiasis in the various states are directly related to each other.”
People become infected with cyclospora by consuming food or water contaminated by feces. Cyclospora infects the small intestine (bowel) and can cause watery diarrhea, loss of appetite, weight loss, stomach cramps/pain, bloating, increased gas, nausea and fatigue. Individuals who contracted the bug this summer ranged in age from less than a year to 92 years old and 57 percent of those infected were female.
Cyclospora cases were reported in Archer, Austin, Bell, Bowie, Brazoria, Cameron, Collin, Coryell, Dallas, Denton, El Paso, Ellis, Fort Bend, Galveston, Grayson, Guadalupe, Harris, Henderson, Hidalgo, Hood, Hunt, Jefferson, Johnson, Kaufman, Kendall, Matagorda, Montague, Montgomery, Navarro, Nolan, Orange, Parker, Potter, Smith, Tarrant, Tom Green, Travis, Uvalde, Van Zandt, Victoria, Walker, Wharton, Williamson and Wise counties.
Officials said the majority of cases in Texas were reported from the Dallas/Fort Worth areas. Authorities with the Palestine Regional Medical Center report there have been no cases of the illness found in Anderson County and continue to recommend people wash all fresh fruits and vegetables thoroughly before consuming them.