Intestinal parasite 'Cyclospora' outbreak in Texas

Wednesday, July 30, 2014 - 10:42pm

It began with only a few reported cases in January. However now in July, the vicious intestinal parasite, Cyclospora, has rapidly spread across the state.

KETK spoke with the Director of Public Health at Net Health, Russell Hopkins, who explained, "It's a food born microorganism, a little parasite that gets attached to food and it can also be water-born".  

This outbreak has infected 77 people in Texas, with the most recent cases reported in Van Zandt County. Hopkins said, "It gets on lettuce or apples or something that you should be washing". So when fruits or vegetables are not properly cleaned, the parasite can enter your body, and nests in your small intestines. 

Hopkins explained the brutal side affects, "It can cause fever, intestinal problems, diarrhea, and dehydration". Unlike your typical stomach bug, Cyclospora will remain in your system unless treated with antibiotics. He said, "The organism will shed itself, but it won't leave your body. So it build back up making you sicker and sicker".

Fortunately there are ways to protect yourself against this gut-bug. Simply drink clean water and thoroughly wash food. Stay weary of lettuce and avocados, and remember to wash all produce before you dig in.  

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