Food & Drink

What’s causing the 11-state cyclospora outbreak that includes a restaurant in Florida

What you need to know about cyclospora infection

"Cyclospora is a protozoa, meaning it is a single-cell organism that we would call a parasite that can cause diarrheal illness," says Dr. Pritish Tosh, an infectious diseases specialist at Mayo Clinic.
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"Cyclospora is a protozoa, meaning it is a single-cell organism that we would call a parasite that can cause diarrheal illness," says Dr. Pritish Tosh, an infectious diseases specialist at Mayo Clinic.

A cyclospora outbreak that’s hit 11 states and 132 people on the East Coast and in the Midwest tracks back to basil imported from Mexico, the FDA said in Thursday’s first outbreak announcement.

The FDA said Siga Logistics de RL de CV, a Morelos, Mexico, company, has agreed to a voluntary recall of its fresh basil. The FDA warns against eating uncooked food that might have fresh Mexican basil unless you can confirm it’s not from Siga Logistics.

While a state-by-state breakdown of cases wasn’t available late Thursday afternoon, the 11 states with cases are Florida, New York, Georgia, South Carolina, Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Ohio, Rhode Island and Wisconsin. The FDA said people got cyclospora at a restaurant in Florida, New York, Minnesota and Ohio.

Cyclospora tends to cause watery diarrhea with a lot of bowel movements, stomachaches, bloating, nausea, fatigue, loss of appetite and flu-like symptoms. This can last anywhere from a few days up to a month.

“Cyclospora is spread by people ingesting something — such as food or water — that was contaminated with feces,” the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say. “Cyclospora needs time (typically, at least one to two weeks) after being passed in a bowel movement to become infectious for another person. Therefore, it is unlikely that cyclospora is passed directly from one person to another.”

Proper hand washing with warm water and soap and washing and sanitizing all food contact surfaces can help halt the spread of cyclospora.

Since 1989, David J. Neal’s domain at the Miami Herald has expanded to include writing about Panthers (NHL and FIU), Dolphins, old school animation, food safety, fraud, naughty lawyers, bad doctors and all manner of breaking news. He drinks coladas whole. He does not work Indianapolis 500 Race Day.
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