July 19, 2013
Nearly 50 Individuals Ill In Texas Intestinal Infection Outbreak
redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports - Your Universe Online
A gastrointestinal infection caused by consuming feces-contaminated food and water has infected four dozen men and women in the state of Texas this week alone, health officials revealed Thursday.
According to CNN.com's Zaina Adamu, the majority of those stricken with the rare parasitic illness known as cyclosporiasis reside in the Dallas/Fort Worth region of the state.
Cyclosporiasis is an intestinal illness caused by the microscopic parasite Cyclospora cayetanensis, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Common symptoms of the condition include watery diarrhea, frequent and occasionally explosive bowel movements, a loss of appetite, weight loss, cramping, bloating, nausea and fatigue.
The exact source of the illness is unknown at this time, but past cases of cyclosporiasis have been linked to fresh produce. In a statement, Zachary Thompson, director of the Dallas County Health & Human Services Department (DCHHS), said that his organization was "continuing to investigate the possible food sources of contamination and who may have been exposed to them."
"It tends to be a tropical- or subtropical-related disease, so it could be coming in from fruit that was brought in from a tropical or subtropical region," Collin County, Texas chief epidemiologist Dr. Peggy Witte told Julie Fancher of the Dallas Morning News.
Over the past 12 years, only a dozen cases of the cyclosporiasis have been reported in the Dallas County region, Fancher said. However, the Daily Mail reports that state-wide incidents have been on the rise in recent years.
There were nine in 2010, 14 in 2011, and 44 in 2012, the UK newspaper said.
"With another cyclospora outbreak raging across Iowa and Nebraska, Texas health officials are trying to determine if the two are linked," reporter Ryan Gorman explained. More than 100 individuals have fallen ill as a result of that outbreak thus far, he added.
"To decrease the risk of eating fresh produce it is important to thoroughly rinse your fruits and vegetables several times," advised DCHHS medical director Dr. Christopher Perkins. "Even when cooking vegetables it is critical to clean them beforehand."
Those who do contract cyclosporiasis are treated with antibiotics. However, according to Adamu, those with weaker immune systems may have to undergo longer courses of treatment than their healthier counterparts.