Texas health officials investigating dozens of illnesses due to parasite

- State health officials are investigating dozens of cases of an illness caused by a parasite since the beginning of May.

According to Texas Health and Health and Human Services, 56 cases of illness due to the parasite Cyclospora have been reported in the past two months. DSHS is working with local health departments and health departments in other states that are seeing an outbreak to determine if there is a common source for the infections.

Health official say cyclosporiasis is an intestinal illness caused by consuming food or water contaminated with the Cyclospora parasite. According to DSHS, past outbreaks in the United States have been associated with the consumption of imported fresh produce.

Officials say the main symptom of cyclosporiasis is watery diarrhea that lasts a few days to a few months. Additional symptoms may include loss of appetite, fatigue, weight loss, abdominal cramps, bloating, increased gas, nausea, vomiting and a low fever.

Anyone with symptoms that may be related to Cyclospora is encouraged to contact their health care provider.

DSHS says consumers should wash all fresh produce, but Cyclospora can be difficult to wash off and may not entirely eliminate the risk. Cooking can kill the parasite.

According to a DSHS health advisory, a large number of cyclosporiasis cases have occurred in Texas during the past five summers.

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