Foodborne illnesses are a serious issue. They can lead to weeks and even months of nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. At The Merman Law Firm, P.C., we are concerned about the recent outbreaks of Cyclosporiasis across the country, which has affected more than 200 people in Texas. You should know what to look for and what to do if you believe you may have contracted the illness.
What Is It?
Cyclosporiasis is an intestinal illness caused by the microscopic parasite, Cyclospora cayetanensis. This one-celled entity can enter your body when you ingest food or water that has been contaminated. In many cases, fresh produce will lead to the infection.
Some people who contract the disease may not even know it. Others will begin to develop symptoms within two to 11 days of consuming the contaminated food. The most common symptoms associated with the condition include the following:
• Watery diarrhea that is frequent, possibly stopping and starting again within a few days
• Bouts of constipation alternating with bouts of diarrhea
• Weight loss and/or a loss of appetite
• Cramping and muscle aches
• Vomiting and nausea
For some people, the illness will only last a few days to a week. However, anyone who has a weakened or compromised immune system could deal with the problem for more than a month.
Treating the Condition
Some people may simply get over the illness without any treatment. Others will take a combination antibiotic known as trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole. A doctor could also prescribe an anti-diarrheal medication or pain medication to deal with some of the symptoms of Cyclosporiasis.
Cyclosporiasis has made headlines in Texas every year for the past three years. In 2013, 270 people contracted the illness. In 2014, 133 people were affected. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration launched an investigation and discovered that cilantro imported from the Puebla region of Mexico was tied to these incidents. The FDA found that the fields of cilantro were irrigated with water contaminated with sewage. Further, investigators noted that there were human feces and toilet paper in the cilantro fields.
Experts believe that the cilantro is again the culprit for the outbreak in 2015, which has reportedly affected nearly 400 people. More than three dozen counties across Texas reported cases of Cyclosporiasis.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, proper washing is key to preventing Cyclosporiasis. For example, consumers should make sure to wash their hands before and after handling produce, meat and seafood. Further, any produce should always be thoroughly washed before eating. Utensils, cutting boards and countertops that have been in touch with raw foods should always be cleaned before their next use.
The parasite that causes the illness will not survive heat. Therefore, the CDC points out that cooking food is another measure that can protect consumers from contracting the illness.
If You Suspect You Have It
Because diarrhea can be a symptom of a number of illnesses, it is a good idea for anyone experiencing it to contact a physician. A stool sample can help identify if someone has contracted Cyclosporiasis.
If you have been diagnosed with the condition, please contact our law firm. Our attorneys have vast experience in working with foodborne illnesses. We work diligently to help victims recover the financial losses associated with medical care, time off work and the pain and suffering they endure.