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Basil From Mexico Likely Source of Cyclospora Outbreak

As of July 24, 2019, 132 individuals have been diagnosed with Cyclospora infection as part of a multistate outbreak linked to consumption of fresh basil.

According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), all of the cases in this outbreak have been traced back to exposures in restaurants in Florida, Minnesota, New York, and Ohio, but confirmed cases have been documented in 11 states.

Early epidemiological evidence suggests that the outbreak source is fresh basil from Siga Logistics de RL de CV of Morelos, Mexico.

The onset of illness ranges from June 14 to July 9, 2019, with ill individuals ranging from 19 to 98 years with a median age of 54 years. No deaths have been reported at this time, but 4 hospitalizations have occurred.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reports that the agency has requested a voluntary recall of the basil and is working alongside Siga Logistics de RL de CV to coordinate the recall. The agency has also ramped up screening of basil imported into the United States.

At this time, the FDA advises importers, distributors, restaurants, and food service providers to refrain from selling, serving, or distributing basil imported from Siga Logistics de RL de CV. If information about the source of fresh basil from Mexico is unavailable, the product should not be sold or served.

There is typically a 1-week window between exposure to the parasite and the onset of symptoms. Cyclospora infects the small intestine and most commonly causes watery diarrhea. Additional symptoms include loss of appetite, weight loss, abdominal pain, bloating, nausea, and fatigue.

It is also possible for ill individuals to experience vomiting, body aches, headaches, low-grade fevers, and flu-like symptoms. Some individuals who become infected with the food-borne pathogen may not exhibit any symptoms.

Prompt diagnosis with Cyclospora infection is critical because if left untreated, it may persist for a month or longer.

The CDC and FDA indicate that the traceback investigation is continuing to confirm the source of contamination. Additionally, there are several more Cyclospora clusters that are being investigated to determine if they are linked to this outbreak.

Illnesses that occurred after June 12, 2019, may not be reported yet due to the length of the Cyclospora reporting timeline, which takes an average of 4 to 6 weeks.

This is an ongoing investigation and the CDC will provide more updates as they become available.

For a list of affected states and case counts, check out the Contagion® Outbreak Monitor.
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