Data suggests that a recent Texas outbreak of the rare foodborne illness cyclosporiasis could be linked to similar cases in the Midwest. The Texas Department of State Health Services has reported 37 cases of cyclospora infection in the past week alone. Prior to this outbreak there have been only 35 cases throughout the state between the years 2001 and 2010.
In the Midwest, 124 patients in Iowa and Nebraska have been diagnosed with cyclosporiasis. In these states the number of cases is still on the rise, doubling and even tripling in the case of Iowa.
The cyclospora parasite can infect water or food and is often ingested when fresh fruits and vegetables are not properly cleaned before eating.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, symptoms of cyclosporiasis are generally mild and can last anywhere from two days to two weeks. For some, however, especially those with impaired immune systems, symptoms can be severe.
Investigators are not yet sure which food product could be causing these cases. For the time being, officials are urging caution, and careful washing of produce before consumption.