cyclosporaoutbreak_406x250Food Safety News reports that Texas officials are investigating an increasing number of Cyclospora parasite infections, asking for help from health care providers and warning the public that fresh produce is the possible source.

As of Thursday, 72 cases had been confirmed in the state, said Press Officer Christine Mann. That’s up from the 55 cases reported Monday in a health advisory from the state health department.

“Within the past month, 55 cases of Cyclospora infection have been reported to the Texas Department of State Health Services,” according to the advisory from state Health Commissioner Dr. John Hellerstedt.

“Rapid reporting to public health, enabling prompt investigation to identify possible common exposures, is essential to preventing additional cases of cyclosporiasis this year.”

State officials are recommending a series of lab tests for everyone who has symptoms of Cyclospora infection.

“Diagnosis of cyclosporiasis requires submission of stool specimens for ‘Ova and Parasite’ testing with additional specific orders for Cyclospora identification. A single negative stool specimen does not exclude the diagnosis; three specimens are optimal,” according to the advisory.

Symptoms usually begin two days to two weeks after ingestion of Cyclospora oocysts in contaminated food or water. Profuse diarrhea can last weeks to months and may relapse. Additional symptoms may include anorexia, fatigue, weight loss, abdominal cramps, bloating, increased gas, nausea, vomiting and low-grade fever.