Cyclospora cases under investigation in Fort Bend County

Health officials investigate dozens of cases of cyclospora in Fort Bend County
September 3, 2013 3:06:48 PM PDT
Health officials are trying to figure out exactly what has been making dozens of people sick in Fort Bend County.

Fort Bend County Health Department spokeperson Melanie Manville said dozens of cases of cyclospora have occurred in the county over the summer. Of 44 cases under investigation, 38 have been confirmed by lab tests, and eight are considered probable cases. Four people were hospitalized but all have since been released.

All of the illnessess were in July and August, and officials say the outbreak appears to be at an end. The investigation into the source is ongoing.

Fort Bend County Health and Human Services is working with the City of Rosenberg Health Department, the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS), and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to investigate the local cyclospora cases and help determine the source. At this time they believe the illnesses are linked to produce from a distributor, but they do not know which food distributor yet.

No new illnesses have been reported in Fort Bend County since July 29.

"We haven't seen any new illnesses since that date," Manville said. "But we have been receiving reports of more illnesses as people become more aware of the illness and the symptoms of it. They think back, and recall that maybe in July there were a few days when they were sick, so they're calling in to report to us those symptoms and where they ate."

Cyclospora is an intestinal illness-causing parasite that can be found in food and water. The parasite can be spread via contaminated food, but is not generally passed from person to person. The time between becoming infected and becoming sick is usually about one week.

Common symptoms of cyclospora include diarrhea, loss of appetite, weight loss, stomach cramps/pain, bloating, increased gas, nausea and fatigue. Vomiting, body aches, headache, fever, and other flu-like symptoms may be present as well. Some people who are infected with cyclospora do not have any symptoms.

If not treated, the illness may last from a few days to a month or longer. Symptoms may seem to go away and then relapse. It's common to feel very tired. If you think you might be infected with cyclospora, you're advised to see your health care provider.

Experts say they don't know what the source is and they don't believe it's related to the outbreak earlier this summer in Iowa. But they are telling people to report their symptoms if they have them and also to wash produce extra well. And of course, they remind everyone to always to wash hands.

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