Cyclospora infections linked to fresh basil

Fresh basil exported by Siga Logistics de RL de CV of Morelos, Mexico is under investigation for a multistate outbreak of Cyclospora infections. As of August 15, 2019, a total of 205 people with laboratory-confirmed Cyclospora infections associated with this outbreak have been reported from 11 states:  CT (1), FL (50), GA (2), IA (2), MA (1), MN (33), NY (107), OH (3), RI (1), SC (1), and WI (4).  Exposures were reported in 5 states (Florida, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, and Wisconsin).

Cyclospora cayetanensis is a microscopic, one-celled parasite. The parasite causes the intestinal infection cyclosporiasis. Cyclospora is spread by people ingesting something – such as food or water – that was contaminated with feces. It generally takes about 1 week after eating or drinking something contaminated for a person to become sick. Cyclospora infects the small intestine and usually causes watery diarrhea, with frequent, sometimes explosive, bowel movements. If not treated, the illness can last from a few days to a month or longer. Symptoms may seem to go away and then return one or more times (relapse). It’s common to feel very tired. More information is available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in English and Spanish.

To prevent illness, it’s best to avoid food or water that might be contaminated with feces (stool). Since that isn’t always easy to do (you don’t know when food or water are contaminated), other safe food recommendations include:

  • Clean: Wash hands with soap and warm water before and after handling or preparing fruits and vegetables. Wash cutting boards, dishes, utensils, and counter tops with soap and hot water between the preparation of raw meat, poultry, and seafood products and the preparation of fruits and vegetables that will not be cooked.
  • Rinse: Rinse all fruits and vegetables under clean running water before eating, cutting or cooking. Rinse just before eating or preparing, don’t hold rinsed items in the refrigerator – this will only encourage spoilage to set in. [Pre-washed items such as ‘triple washed’ salad greens should not be washed at home.]
  • Store: Store fruits and vegetables away from raw meat, poultry, and seafood.

Stay food safe. Barb