Here's how to avoid the parasite outbreak that's spreading across Texas

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- A produce parasite called cyclospora is being blamed for causing illness among at least 56 people across Texas this year, according to state health officials.

The exact source of the problem is still being investigated, but health officials believe it may be due to consuming unwashed produce.

"Locally, as far as the cases we've seen so far here in Houston, this year we have seen three cases, which is actually down from last year at this time when there were 18," said Scott Packard of the Houston Health Department.

Fruits and veggies like cilantro, pre-packed salad, basil and raspberries were listed among the most susceptible to the parasite.

Brent Erenwert is the CEO of Brothers Produce, which ships out about 25,000 cases of fresh produce to the Houston-area daily.

He said customers typically consume strawberries and grapes without a thorough washing, and urges everyone to pay attention to the origin of their fruits and veggies, which can be found on the sticker labels.

According to Packard, washing all produce thoroughly under cold running water should remove most, if not all, of the cyclospora, but there is still a small chance of infection even with washing.

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Here's how to avoid the parasite outbreak that's spreading across Texas

The suggested method includes cold running water and using hands to gently rub the outside of produce.

Cyclospora is treatable and those experiencing symptoms like bloating, gas and diarrhea are urged to see a doctor.

Here's the list of Cyclosporiasis Case Counts by County in Texas

Bexar: 11
Brazoria: 1
Brazos: 1
Collin: 2
Dallas: 2
Fort Bend: 1
Galveston: 1
Grimes: 1
Guadalupe: 1
Harris: 6
Hidalgo: 5
Jackson: 1
Kerr: 1
Montgomery: 3
Starr: 1
Tarrant: 1
Travis: 16
Waller: 1
Washington: 1
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