By Elsa Maxey
Fort Bend County Health & Human Services advises that work continues with the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) as it investigates a food-borne intestinal illness caused by a parasite found in foods.
The cyclospora parasite, typically spread through feces-tainted produce, is responsible for a total of 44 stomach issues reported in Fort Bend, the number of cases as of this Tuesday, said Melanie Manville, Public Health Information Specialist with the county’s health department. Of that number, 36 are lab confirmed and eight are probable, she said. “The number of cases is not increasing, no more people are getting sick, we’re just finding out about more of them,” explained Manville about the outbreak noting that the CDC visited with health officials last week and are now back in Atlanta.
“The cases are from throughout the county,” and Manville also told the “Star” that a city-specific breakdown was not available.
Persons subjected to cyclospora report symptoms that include vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, abdomen pain, and those with these conditions are asked see their doctor, advises the county health department.
In the meantime, there’s an in-depth investigation to identify food suppliers and distributors that provided food to various restaurants and grocery stores, which is already winding down. The CDC is reviewing interviews relating to about 90 restaurants and grocery stores possibly having received food items with the parasite, reports Manville. The focus is on identifying specific foods so they may be traced to processing plants and their source. Contamination, she said, took place before the food reached a restaurant or grocery store.
The food-borne illness cases, in excess of 250 in Texas, are reportedly related to a nationwide outbreak, caused by the parasite which has affected hundreds across the country. Other reports indicate that only about 9% nationwide have been hospitalized. No deaths have been reported.
For more information on cyclospora, visit http://www.cdc.gov/parasites/cyclosporiasis/.