City of AustinFOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Prevent Cyclosporiasis infection by following safe fruit and vegetable handling guidelines
Austin, Texas – Austin Public Health (APH) is investigating an outbreak of Cyclosporiasis in Austin-Travis County. As of August 5, 82 cases have been reported to our epidemiology team, with the earliest symptom onset reported on June 1.
Cyclosporiasis is an intestinal illness caused by a microscopic parasite and it is spread by people consuming food or water that has been contaminated with feces. While APH has not yet identified a single source of the local outbreak, previous outbreaks have been linked to a variety of fresh fruits or vegetables, including raspberries, cilantro, basil, and green onions.
There is typically one week between becoming infected and developing symptoms, which can include diarrhea, frequent bowel movements, loss of appetite, weight loss, stomach cramps, bloating, gas, nausea, and fatigue. If you suspect you may be infected, seek medical attention – if not treated, the illness may last anywhere from a few days to more than a month.
“While we may be in COVID-19 season, we cannot forget the other diseases and infections that are commonly present in our community,” said Janet Pichette, APH Chief Epidemiologist. “And as we have said time and time again, there are ways to prevent many of these diseases and infections, including Cyclosporiasis – thoroughly wash fresh produce, wash your hands after handling fruits and vegetables, and separate produce from raw meat and seafood.”
Cyclosporiasis infection can be prevented by following safe fruit and vegetable handling guidelines:
- Wash: Wash hands with soap and warm water before and after handling or preparing fruits and vegetables. Also wash cutting boards, dishes, utensils, and counter tops with soap and hot water between the preparation of raw meat products and the preparation of fruits and vegetables.
- Prepare: Wash all fruits and vegetables thoroughly under running water before eating, cutting, or cooking. Scrub firm fruits and vegetables, such as melons and cucumbers, with a clean produce brush. Cut away any damaged or bruised areas on fruits and vegetables before preparing and eating.
- Store: Refrigerate cut, peeled, or cooked fruits and vegetables as soon as possible, or within two hours. Separate fruits and vegetables from raw meat and seafood.
Nationally, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are also investigating a multistate outbreak of Cyclosporiasis infections related to bagged salad mix.
For more information on Cyclosporiasis, visit www.cdc.gov/parasites/cyclosporiasis/index.html.