Epidemiologists in Dallas County are concerned that a recent uptick in the number of cases of the food-borne illness cyclosporiasis may be linked to a recent outbreak of over 100 people in Nebraska and Iowa.
According to a memo sent on Tuesday from the county’s Department of Health and Human Services to medical providers, eight cases of the rare cyclospora infection have been diagnosed within the past week in Dallas County. This is a much higher trend than it has been in the past 12 years with only 12 cases diagnosed within Dallas County.
Within the state of Texas, the Texas Department of State Health Services had 35 reported cases from the years 2001 to 2010. As of Tuesday afternoon, the state reports 37 reports of the cyclospora infection in just the past 7 days.
Cyclospora is a known parasite that can infect both food and water. According to the Centers for Disease Control, symptoms usually begin to manifest approximately one week after exposure to the parasite. The symptoms will last for a period of between two days up to two weeks. In extreme cases, those who catch the illness can suffer symptoms for up two months.
“In general, cyclospora infections can be mild and be a nuisance,” said Dallas County Health & Human Services Chief Epidemiologist Dr. Wendy Chung. “They can cause prolonged bouts of diarrhea for weeks. Unfortunately, there may be more serious cases, especially in people with suppressed immune systems.”
The CDC says common symptoms are diarrhea, loss of appetite, weight loss, cramping, bloating, increased gas, nausea and fatigue. Typically, the rare parasite is found on imported fresh fruits and vegetables that were not cleaned properly before being eaten. Cooking does kill the parasite, however.
Quoting from Dallas County’s memo, “DCHHS is encouraging medical providers to consider testing patients for Cyclospora if they have diarrheal illness lasting more than a couple days or diarrhea accompanied by severe anorexia or fatigue.”
According to reports, the cases elsewhere are also on the rise. The cases in Nebraska have doubled and in Iowa they have tripled.
Officials have said they are investigating possible connections to food sources and grocery vendors to find the source of the illness. So far it is unknown. Before now, outbreaks of the Cyclospora parasite have been in direct association with produce items which are imported from more tropical climates, as well as from some Latin American countries.
Anyone who is suffering from the symptoms that are associated with cyclosporiasis are urged to see a doctor. Cases of cyclosporiasis are treated with an antibiotic that is taken over the course of between one week to two weeks.
While thoroughly washing all fresh produce before it is consumed is always recommended, even this may still not completely eliminate the transmission of the Cyclospora parasite. State health officials and the CDC website also state that person-to-person transmission is unlikely.
If you or a loved one has contracted cyclosporiasis, give our offices a call to discuss your case. It is possible that you could be compensated for your illness if it is discovered that a company was negligent. Even in widespread cases such as this, narrowing it all down to a potential source can be difficult. Even with this in mind, it is important to have good legal representative who has years of experience with food borne illness liability cases. More than likely, after such an illness there will be hospital and other medical bills, costs of aftercare, in addition to loss of income – especially if you or your child was made ill. Compensation for cyclosporiasis personal injury expenses, pain and suffering, including actual physical pain, disability, loss of quality of life and emotional pain is possible. We are here to help you and your family. Your initial consultation is without cost or obligation.