Some of the Texas cyclosporiasis cases have been traced back to fresh cilantro from Mexico, according to federal health officials.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released the findings Wednesday, which indicate there was more than one outbreak of cyclosporiasis over the summer, though recent data suggests that both outbreaks have ended.
On its website, the CDC shows that 278 cases of cyclosporiasis were reported in Texas through Sept. 20. Another 39 were reported that didn't fit the agency's definition of the outbreak and aren't included in that number.
Investigations led by state and local health officials, as well as officials from the Food and Drug Administration and the CDC, concluded that clusters of illnesses pointed toward fresh cilantro from Puebla, Mexico.
Investigators identified more than 70 clusters of illnesses in Texas. Most of the clusters identified in Texas involved two or three ill people, the CDC said in a report on its website.
"During interviews with ill persons in Texas, about 50 percent reported having eaten fresh cilantro two–14 days before they became ill," the CDC said. "This proportion was significantly higher than that reported among ill persons in Iowa and Nebraska (reported by about 10 percent), and significantly higher than results from a previously conducted survey of healthy persons in New Mexico, where 27 percent reported eating fresh cilantro in the seven days before they were interviewed."
The CDC also traced several dozen cases of infection to a restaurant in Fort Bend County where fresh cilantro from Puebla, Mexico, was served. Lettuce was also served at that restaurant, but it was not from the company linked to cyclosporiasis outbreaks in Iowa and Nebraska.
- Public health officials in Iowa and Nebraska performed investigations within their states and concluded that restaurant-associated cases of cyclosporiasis in their states were linked to a salad mix produced by Taylor Farms de Mexico.
- Epidemiologic and traceback investigations conducted in Texas by state and local public health and regulatory officials, the FDA, and CDC indicated that some illnesses among Texas residents were linked to fresh cilantro from Puebla, Mexico.
The CDC said the outbreaks of cyclosporiasis appear to be over and that there is no evidence to suggest that contaminated salad mix from Taylor Farms de Mexico or contaminated fresh cilantro from Puebla, Mexico, is still on the market.
Cyclosporiasis is an intestinal illness that is caused by the microscopic parasite cyclospora cayetanensis and causes prolonged diarrheal distress. People can become infected with cyclospora by eating or drinking food or water contaminated with the parasite.
None of the cases in Texas were fatal.