Health alert: Cyclospora outbreak in Texas
Infection causes severe diarrhea, weight loss, fatigue
The Texas Department of State Health Services has begun an investigation into the increase of Cyclospora in the state. The DSHS is looking to find a "common source" in determing the cause of infection.
The DSHS has received reports of 205 cases of Cyclosporiasis in Texas. No cases have been reported at Cook Children's. In Cook Children's six-county service region, the following numbers have been reported:
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration's alert says cilantro from the Mexican state of Puebla may be the cause for the recent outbreaks.
Symptoms usually begin 2 to 14 days after ingestion of contaminated food or water.Mary Suzanne Whitworth, M.D.,medical director of Infectious Diseases at Cook Children’s, advises parents to contact their Cook Children’s pediatrician if they have a diarrhea-like illness lasting more than a few days or diarrhea accompanied by severe weight loss or fatigue. Those are symptoms of Cyclospora.
Symptoms include severe diarrhea that can last a week to months, and if not treated, the person may relapse. Additional symptoms may include fatigue, severe weight loss, abdominal cramps, bloating, increased gas, nausea, vomiting and low grade fever. If your child is experiencing these symptoms, do not wait. Contact your Cook Children’s pediatrician. If your child is diagnosed with Cyclospora, an antibiotic can be prescribed.
However, most cases of diarrhea or an upset stomach do not need treatment with an antibiotic. Usually, diarrhea is caused by viruses, so time, rest and diet will take care of the problem.
“Past outbreaks of Cyclospora in the U.S. have been caused from imported, fresh produce,” Dr. Whitworth said. “The best way to prevent Cyclospora in your household is to wash your fruits and vegetables as thoroughly as possible. Let fruits and vegetables soak for a few minutes in clean water in the sink, and then drain and spray them off with clean water before eating them. Thorough washing of fresh produce is highly recommended, but it may not remove the risk of someone in your family getting Cylospora entirely. If your child has these symptoms, it’s best to see a pediatrician and get treated as quickly as possible.”
Cyclospora is generally not transmitted directly from person-to-person, however children with diarrhea should always avoid swimming in pools to avoid the spread of infection.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more information about Cyclospora.
When should you call your pediatrician about diarrhea? Watch this video from Justin Smith, M.D., for more information.