Health officials warn the public to take extra precautions this summer after receiving reports of increased Cyclospora infections within Harris and Fort Bend Counties.
The health departments said they are investigating the cases and would like to remind people that some gastrointestinal illnesses can spread quickly, especially during the summer.
According to Harris County Public Health, Cyclospora is a non-life-threatening gastrointestinal illness caused by an intestinal parasite.
Officials say people can become infected by consuming contaminated food or water. Cases in Texas have been linked with the consumption of fresh produce, including fresh cilantro, pre-packaged salad mix, raspberries, basil, snow peas, and mesclun lettuce, according to Harris Health.
Health officials say a rise in the infection across the state tends to happen seasonally between April and August.
Symptoms tend to appear between two to 14 days, and most people reportedly recover with no significant health effects.
However, officials warn that those who are immunocompromised, infants, or the elderly, may be more affected and potentially require hospitalization for treatment.
The public health agency said emphasizes that the disease cannot be transmitted through direct person-to-person contact.
Here are some prevention tips:
- Wash your hands with soap and water thoroughly for at least 20 seconds before and after preparing food.
- Wash all fruits and vegetables thoroughly under running water before eating, cutting, or cooking. According to the CDC, fruits and vegetables labeled "prewashed" do not need to be washed again at home. You should also use a clean produce brush to scrub firm fruits and vegetables, such as melons and cucumbers. The CDC also advises cutting away any damaged or bruised areas on fruits and vegetables before preparing and eating. When it comes to storing food, be sure to refrigerate cut, peeled or cooked fruits and vegetables as soon as possible or within two hours. And be sure to store fruits and vegetables away from raw meat, poultry and seafood.
- Wash all cutting boards, utensils, and surfaces to avoid cross-contamination.
View more information on possible Cyclospora symptoms: