Contaminated Fresh Basil Causing Outbreak Of Cyclospora Parasite
Fresh basil exported by Siga Logistics de LR de CV of Morelos, Mexico has been linked to a multi-state outbreak of Cyclospora illnesses. The basil was recalled by the supplier as potentially contaminated in July of 2019, and the recall remains, as it’s unclear just how much of this basil was imported into the United States, what the basil products were used in, and how fresh basil products can be linked to the Siga Logistics de LR de CV can be identified. It’s recommended that consumers avoid basil products from Mexico in order to avoid basil that could be contaminated at this time.
The basil in question may have been purchased by consumers directly, and it may also have been purchased by restaurants and food retailers. Avoiding uncooked items that include basil, like fresh pesto, at restaurants is recommended at this time unless one can be assured that the basil did not come from a Mexican supplier.
Cases of Cyclospora connected to the infected basil have reached 205 illnesses and 5 hospitalizations across 11 states, 5 of which included restaurant exposures. While the last illness onset occurred in July, infected basil still on market shelves cannot be ruled out at this time.
What Is Cyclospora?
Cyclospora illnesses are caused by microscopic parasites that cannot be seen with the naked eye. The Cyclospora cayetanensis parasite is ingested through infected food, and then settles in the intestine causing the Cyclospora illness. Symptoms of Cyclospora include:
• Nausea and vomiting
• Loss of appetite
• Increased gas
Diagnosis of Cyclospora illness requires a stool sample study carried out by a doctor, and the illness is treated with a combination of medication and good old fashioned rest. A doctor may prescribe a combination of two antibiotics with trimethoprim and sulfamethoxazole, and then suggest taking an anti-diarrheal medication, keeping hydrated, and getting plenty of rest. If not treated, a Cyclospora infection may last anywhere from a couple of days to a month.
It can be difficult to pinpoint causes of Cyclospora infections, as the illness can take up to a week to show symptoms after a person has ingested infected foods. In some cases, a person can be infected with Cyclospora and show no symptoms at all, or show only very mild symptoms that they chalk up to a typical run-of-the-mill temporary stomach ache.
What Causes Cyclospora Infections?
Cyclospora is typically transmitted when feces that contains the parasite infects food or water, which is then consumed to allow the parasites to spread. This type of infection is rare to transmit from person to person, as it can sometimes take weeks or more for the parasite to become infectious after it is passed from the body. This means that, unlike other types of stomach illnesses, you’re not likely to catch it from having an infected person prepare your food or using the bathroom after an infected person has used it.
If you suspect you may have had the infected basil in your home, there are things you can do to ensure you don’t get sick. First and foremost, discard any potentially infected basil you may have left, and then it’s time to begin the cleaning process. The walls and inside shelves of the refrigerator where the basil was stored should be washed thoroughly, and all utensils that touched the basil should be sanitized with a mixture of warm water and a small amount of bleach. After sanitizing these areas and utensils, make sure to wash your hands with hot soapy water thoroughly before going about the rest of your day. Defective products like contaminated foods are responsible for more than 40 million illnesses each year, and it’s important that consumers know how to keep themselves safe.