56 people sick with parasite in Texas outbreak

Cyclospora is a parasite commonly found in developing countries.

The Texas Department of State Health Services on Monday announced the public health investigation in a review of illnesses since May.

The parasite is an internal illness, which people contract after consuming contaminated food or water.

Last year, there were 319 cases of cyclosporiasis in Texas.

Past outbreaks in the United States were linked to consumption of imported fresh produce, such as fresh pre-packaged salad mix, basil, raspberries, snow peas, and mesclun green.

Cyclospora cayetanensis is a microscopic, single-celled parasite that causes an intestinal illness known as cyclosporiasis in people, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). If anyone presents with diarrhea that lasts more than a few days, or diarrhea that is accompanied by fatigue or weight loss, they should be checked for the parasite. Other symptoms may include loss of appetite, fatigue, weight loss, abdominal cramps, bloating, increased gas, nausea, vomiting and a low fever.

Last month, the CDC announced that it was investigating an outbreak of Cyclospora that sickened 185 people in four states: Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin and MI.

The DSHS said that people who show potential symptoms of cyclosporiasis should seek treatment from their health care provider.

Health officials are working with other states to determine the source of the infections in 56 Texans. The symptoms may also come and go many times over weeks or months.

There's no need to boycott fruits and vegetables, but health officials encourage everyone to thoroughly wash all fresh produce. Cooking however, will kill the parasite.