The Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS), along with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has spent the last several months investigating an outbreak of Cyclospora illness, and they have traced the illnesses to cilantro that was imported from Puebla, Mexico. The agency’s report that the number of new illnesses has returned to normal background levels, and at this point in time the outbreak seems to have subsided.
Though this particular outbreak affected 19 states, the state of Texas was particularly hard hit. Of the 207 people who became ill during this outbreak, 133 of them, or 64%, became ill in Texas, with most coming from North Texas. So far, four of the victims have been hospitalized. Though the outbreak is believed to have started around May 1, the bulk of the cases reported occurred in June and July. The total number of reported cyclosporiasis cases in Texas so far in 2014 is 166, although it is unknown whether all of the illnesses had been linked to cilantro.
It is actually the second summer in a row that the state of Texas has been hit with an outbreak of cyclosporiasis linked to cilantro from Puebla. In an outbreak last summer, 270 Texans became sick from cyclosporiasis from cilantro grown in the same area of Mexico. Some studies have demonstrated that, in certain environments, cyclospora oocysts can survive for long periods of time.
Cyclosporiasis is a gastrointestinal illness that is caused when someone consumes food or water that has been contaminated with the Cyclospora parasite. Among the key symptoms is ex diarrhea that can last anywhere from a few days to a few months, with symptoms sometimes going away and coming back several times. Other symptoms can include a low-grade fever, increased gas, nausea, and abdominal cramps. Symptoms usually show up between several days till week after infection, but occasionally it can take as much as two weeks for symptoms to develop.
The link to cilantro was made after a traceback investigation of four restaurants in northern Texas that was conducted by the FDA and DSHS. The investigation did not find specific samples of cilantro contaminated with cyclospora, but the evidence was sufficient to establish a strong link between the illnesses and the cilantro. None of the agencies has identified the four restaurants they examined, nor did they identify them after last year’s outbreak.
Anyone that has any of the above symptoms should drink a lot of water and rest, and they should also visit a medical professional as soon as possible. Then, you should please contact the Foodborne Illness Safety Lawyer at Hill Law Firm to arrange a free consultation, so we can investigate the situation and help you protect your rights under the law.