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Confirmed cyclosporiasis cases surged last week, prompting the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) to open an investigation to determine a common source.

The DSHS received reports of 64 cyclosporiasis cases from Texas this year, including 52 in the last week. More than half of these cases came from Travis County.

Cyclospora is an intestinal illness caused by consuming food or water contaminated with the Cyclospora cayetanensis parasite.

Symptoms begin two to 14 days after ingestion. The major symptom is diarrhea that can last a few days to a few months. Additional symptoms include loss of appetite, fatigue, weight loss, abdominal cramps, bloating, increased gas, nausea, vomiting and low-grade fever.

DSHS is encouraging healthcare providers to test patients for Cyclospora if they are exhibiting any of the above symptoms. Diagnoses of the Cyclospora infection require the submission of stool specimens for “Ova and Parasite” testing with specific orders for Cyclospora.

Healthcare providers are also encouraged to report confirmed cases to the health department. Their prompt reporting will help DSHS officials to identify a common exposure source to reduce additional cases. So far, no common exposure source has been identified with the current outbreak.

Last year, Texas’ 200 cases of Cyclospora were associated with the consumption of imported fresh produce including fresh cilantro, pre-packaged salad mix, raspberries, basil, snow peas and mesclun lettuce.

Washing produce will reduce the risk of contracting Cyclosporiasis and cooking food will kill the parasite.

Here in North Texas, Dallas County has reported three cases of Cyclospora so far this year, while Collin County has had two.

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