Texas health officials are trying to determine whether 56 cases of people getting sick from the parasite Cyclospora are related.
The Texas Department of State Health Services on Monday announced the public health investigation in a review of illnesses since May. State officials are working with local health departments to determine if there's a common source for the intestinal infections.
Cyclospora is a parasite commonly found in developing countries. The intestinal illness is caused by consuming food or water contaminated with the microscopic parasite. The main symptom is watery diarrhea lasting a few days to a few months.
Past U.S. outbreaks have been associated with people eating imported fresh produce. Experts recommend thoroughly washing all produce.
Cooking will kill the parasite.
DSHS recommends thoroughly washing all fresh produce, but that may not entirely eliminate the risk because the parasite is notably difficult to wash off. Cooking the produce will kill the parasite and infection is generally not transmitted through person-to-person contact.
More than 300 cases of cyclosporiasis were reported in Texas last year.