A parasite has infected and sickened more than 50 Texas residents since May as state health officials try to determine a common source for the infections.
Cyclospora is a microscopic parasite that causes the intestinal illness Cyclosporiasis, which is spread by consuming contaminated food or water, according to health officials.
The main symptom is watery diarrhea, which can last as little as a few days or as long as a few months. Additional symptoms could include loss of appetite, fatigue, weight loss, nausea, vomiting and a low fever, the Department of State Health Services said in the news release.
All of the symptoms can come and go multiple times over a period of weeks or months, but the infection generally is not transmitted directly from person to person.
Now local health departments around the state are working with those in other states also experiencing an outbreak to try to determine whether there is a common source.
The health advisory did not specify the counties in which the illnesses have been reported.
Texas has had multiple outbreaks linked to cilantro, and there were 319 cases of Cyclosporiasis reported in the state last year, up from 216 in 2016, the health department said. Investigations revealed that some illnesses among Texas residents from 2013-2015 were linked to fresh cilantro from Puebla, Mexico.
Past outbreaks across the U.S. have been linked to the consumption of imported fresh produce, including fresh pre-packaged salad mix, raspberries, basil, snow peas and mesclun greens.
The health department recommends thoroughly washing all fresh produce, although that might not completely eliminate the risk of infection. However, cooking will kill the parasite, the department said.