Cyclospora parasite prompts public health investigation in Texas

HOUSTON — A nasty little parasite has reared its ugly head in Texas, prompting a public health investigation. Its name is Cyclospora. The parasite causes an illness called Cyclosporiasis, which causes symptoms like diarrhea, loss of appetite, weight loss, upset stomach, and a low-grade fever.

The microscopic menace could be to blame for 56 cases in Texas, however reported cases in Houston are currently down. Cyclospora generally lives on imported fresh produce, including fresh pre-packaged salad mix, raspberries, basil and snow peas. Multiple past outbreaks have been linked to cilantro in Texas.

So what can you do to protect yourself?

"The one thing you can do is make sure you thoroughly wash your produce before using it," Houston Health Department spokesman Scott Packard said. "That's not guaranteed to wash off the parasite, however, it's the best protection."

If you have diarrhea that lasts more than a few days as well as loss of appetite or fatigue. Don't ignore the symptoms— see your doctor!

"Basically the doctor is going to test your poop for this parasite to see if it exists," Packard said.

If you don't want to go through that, remember to wash your veggies, folks!