Intestinal illness outbreak hits Texas, one case in panhandle

Intestinal illness outbreak hits Texas, one case in panhandle

Amarillo, TX -  An intestinal illness has health care providers on high alert.

It's called Cyclospora. There have been over fifty cases in one week state-wide. And local health care officials tell us they have seen a case here in Amarillo.

State and local health authorities are investigating an outbreak of the intestinal illness caused by consuming contamintated food or water. The majority of the cases here in Texas are said to have come from produce.
"Cyclospora is a protozoan, so like there's cysts that are excreted in someone's feces," says Public Health Director Casie Stoughton. It can be treated with an antibiotic. Usually it can cause lots of diarrhea and abdominal pain, usually characterized by prolonged diarrhea."

According to the Texas Department of State Health Services, the state has risen to nearly sixty confirmed cases.

One has even been seen in Amarillo, however the source of this case has not been identified.
"These types of infections could go undetected you know they're going to be a GI upset, so nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, maybe some fever accompanying that, so you know we could just pass it off as a simple GI bug and kinda over look it," says Nurse Practitioner Amy Upton.
"It doesn't spread person to person, so usually you would have to eat that item that has the cysts on it, so that's good that it doesn't spread person to person," says Casie Stoughton.

Reports of Cyclospora have been high in Texas each of the past three summers, but the alert says the recent surge is unusual'

Although it usually takes a week for a person to fall ill, the illness may last a month or longer if untreated.
"Washing hands is number one, and two washing your foods appropriately," says Upton. "Washing them in warm, soapy water. Let them dry before you eat them."
"The best way to do that is washing any produce of vegetables--fruits, vegetables things like that. wash those very, very well," says Stoughton.

Officials tell us although thoroughly washing produce is recommended, it does not completely eliminate the risk of transmission.