If you get a food-borne illness this month, here’s why you need to report it ASAP

No one like to talk about food poisoning, but keeping food safe is a big part of being able to enjoy it.

Fresh produce is usually the culprit of cyclosporiasis, a disease caused by a parasite that thrives on raw fruit, vegetables and greens. Washing doesn’t remove the parasite, but cooking kills it. Contributed by Mary Helen Leonard

There’s an outbreak of cyclosporiasis in Texas right now — that’s the food-borne illness from the cyclospora parasite — that has sickened at least 68 people.

Cyclosporiasis is a food-borne illness that is not usually fatal, but it does cause vomiting and diarrhea. Contributed by the CDC

What’s the contaminated food? That’s the thing. The Department of Health Services hasn’t been able to figure out where the parasite is coming from, so they need your help.

If you or someone you know comes down with the symptoms of cyclosporiasis, which include diarrhea, cramps, fatigue and vomiting, let your health care provider know as soon as possible so they can test and report any additional cases.

Why does this matter? Until the health department can nail down which specific produce item is making people sick, more people will fall ill. It’s not typically fatal, but nobody wants a food system with undetected cyclospora parasites being shipped and consumed all over the place on raspberries, herbs, lettuce or the like.

One of the recent cyclosporiasis outbreaks in Austin happened in 2015 when more than a dozen Austinites consumed contaminated cilantro imported from Mexico.

RELATED: Illness linked to imported produce finds foothold in Texas

 

Health officials recommend thoroughly washing all produce, but cyclospora can be difficult to wash off. Cooking will kill the parasite, however.

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