The FDA and CDC have linked a multistate outbreak of cyclospora illnesses to fresh basil exported by Siga Logistics de RL de CV located in Morelos, Mexico. The company has agreed to voluntarily recall the product.
Since the outbreak was first reported in July, there has been 205 reported illnesses and five hospitalizations across 11 states. With exposures occuring at restaurants in Florida, Maine, New York, Ohio and Wisconsin.
No deaths have been reported at the time of this publication.
What is Cyclospora?
Cyclospora cayetanensis is a parasite that can only be seen under a microscope. When people consume products that's contaminated with Cyclospora, they can get an intestinal illness called cyclosporiasis.
The parasite is generally transmitted when infected feces contaminate food or water. It's unlikely to be transmitted directly from person to person because it needs time (days to weeks) after being passed in a bowel movement to become infectious for another person.
The time between becoming infected and becoming sick is usually about one week. Cyclospora infects the small intestine (bowel) and usually causes watery diarrhea, with frequent, sometimes explosive, bowel movements. Other symptoms include loss of appetite, weight loss, stomach cramps/pain, bloating, increased gas, nausea and fatigue. People may experience vomiting, body aches, headache, low-grade fever and other flu-like symptoms. Meanwhile, some may not have any symptoms. If not treated, the illness may last from a few days to a month or longer.
Illnesses first began on June 10, 2019 and have ranged until July 18, 2019. Sickened people range in age from 15 to 98 years, with 70 percent being female.
The FDA reports that some illnesses may have yet to be reported as it takes an average of 4-6 weeks for a person to become ill and when it is reported.
In interviews, victims answered questions about the food they ate and other exposures in the week before they became ill to determine if there was a common illness cluster - an area where two people who do not live in the same household reported eating at the same restaurant location, attending a common event or shopping at the same location of a grocery store in the week before becoming ill. If several unrelated ill people ate or shopped at the same location of a restaurant or store within several days of each other, it suggests that the contaminated food item was served or sold there. For the basil outbreak, there were several situations where people reported reported eating at the same restaurants, according to Food Safety News.
Consumers should not eat fresh basil exported by Siga Logistics de RL de CV of Morelos, Mexico until we learn more about this outbreak. This investigation is ongoing, and the CDC will provide updates when more information is available.