More Than 100 North Texans Sickened By Cyclospora, Source Of Infection Still Undetermined

DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – The number of people sickened by “cyclosporiasis” — a nasty stomach bug — grew dramatically on Thursday. Tarrant County reported four more cases and Dallas County reported two more, which brings the total of North Texas who have gotten sick from the produce parasite to 103 people.

Collin County resident Suzie Matteis says she started feeling the symptoms at the beginning of July, including fever, fatigue, and cramping. She says she tried over the counter drugs, but they didn’t help.

“Six days…six days is when I finally got myself to a doctor, because I thought this is not resolving,” said Matteis.

Her doctor told her she tested positive for cyclospora, and Matties says someone from the Collin County Health Department called the next day.

“She was asking me all kinds of questions,” recalls Matteis.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control announced on Thursday that it’s received 397 reports of infections nationwide. More than a quarter of them are in Texas.

Health investigators in Iowa and Nebraska have linked cases in their states to pre-packaged salad mix, but won’t identify any specific company or brand involved. Investigators in Texas have not identified the source of infections here.

Matteis says she remembers eating salads – at restaurants and at home – before she got sick. Now, she struggles with a lack of appetite, a lack of energy and a lingering uncertainty of what is safe.

I’m skittish about going back to buying food. I don’t know what to buy. I don’t know where to go eat. And, I’m still not out of the woods here,” said Matteis.

Health authorities are urging citizens to thoroughly clean their produce to wash away the parasite cyclospora, which leaves its waste on the leaves and skin of vegetables and fruit.

Unfortunately, even careful washing may not guarantee the removal of parasites from uncooked fruits and vegetables. However, public health officials say cooking or heating vegetables will kill the cyclspora infection.

Babies, children and the elderly are particularly susceptible to the cyclospora infection. People with weakened immune systems are at risk too, mainly because of the risk of dehydration from severe diarrhea.

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