Health officials say more than a dozen cases of cyclosporiasis have been confirmed in North Texas' four major counties and that the source is likely contaminated food.
The Texas Department of State Health Services said Wednesday the parasite was found in Dallas, Tarrant, Collin and Denton counties and that the origin may be linked to a fresh produce item.
County officials told NBC 5 there have been four cases recorded in Dallas County, three in Collin County, four in Denton County and seven in Tarrant County. The Denton County cases and at least four of the Tarrant County cases had recently traveled out of the country -- calling into question the point of origin.
It is not known if any of the patients in Dallas County or Collin County had recently traveled abroad.
Across the state, there are currently 66 confirmed cases of cyclosporiasis -- though the sources of infection haven't been confirmed. For most people, the symptoms are serious. "But for those who are very young and those who are older, or those who have a suppressed immune system, this illness can cause major problems," said Dr. Khang Tran, chief medical officer at The Medical Center of Plano.
In recent years, 2012-2015, cyclospora outbreaks were associated with fresh cilantro imported from Puebla, Mexico. Since the summer of 2015, the Food and Drug Administration has instituted ban on imports from that region between from April through August.
"Buy local," said Cameron Satterthwaite, of Georgia's Farmers Market in Plano. "That way you can have more of an assurance you're not getting some massive widespread disease or illness that's on the ground."
The only imports allowed to enter the U.S. from that region are those that are on the FDA's green list.
In 2015, the DSHS said there were 316 cases of cyclosporiasis in Texas.
Cyclosporiasis Case Counts and Incidence Rates in Texas, 2001-2014
Year | Case Count | Incidence Rates
2014* | 200 | 0.7
2013* | 351 | 1.3
2012* | 44 | 0.2
2011* | 14 | 0.1
2010 | 9 | 0.0
2009 | 10 | 0.0
2008 | 6 | 0.0
2007 | 2 | 0.0
2006 | 1 | 0.0
2005 | 1 | 0.0
2004 | 4 | 0.0
2003 | 1 | 0.0
2002 | 1 | 0.0
2001 | 0 | 0.0
IR=incidence rate per 100,000 *incidence rates are bases on projected census data obtained from the DSHS Center for Health Statistics.