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Parasite Tied to Poop-Infected Cilantro Hits 26 States

384 Americans have had cyclosporiasis this year: CDC, FDA
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 5, 2015 9:13 AM CDT
Parasite Tied to Poop-Infected Cilantro Hits 26 States
Bundles of cilantro are harvested at La Nay Ferme in Provo on Thursday, May 14, 2015.   (Spenser Heaps/Daily Herald via AP)

(Newser) – The number of Americans this year affected by a nasty stomach bug tied to poop-contaminated cilantro has reached 384 across 26 states, including Texas, Wisconsin, and Georgia, authorities say, per CNN. The CDC and FDA say the outbreak of cyclosporiasis—appearing in the US for a fourth summer in a row—likely began sometime after May 1, when cilantro made "contact with the parasite shed from the intestinal tract of humans" in growing fields full of feces and toilet paper in Mexico's Puebla state, or during harvesting, processing, and packing, per Al Jazeera America. At least 226 people have fallen ill since that time.

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The parasite, cyclospora cayetanensis, infects the small intestine and can cause watery diarrhea, explosive bowel movements, nausea, fatigue, loss of appetite, and weight loss, with symptoms lasting up to a month if untreated, reports the AP. Officials say preliminary tests in Texas and Wisconsin found cilantro from Puebla was served at restaurants visited by at least some of the people who've become sick. Cilantro from Puebla was also linked to other cyclosporiasis cases in the US in each of the last three years, the FDA says. Cilantro from the region is now only accepted into the US from approved companies. Experts warn washing cilantro won't necessarily get rid of the parasite. (Read more cilantro stories.)

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