Cilantro possible source of Travis County outbreak
The FDA may have found what caused dozens of people in Travis County to get sick last month. And that cause may have been on your dinner table tonight.
At the Fresh Plus store in Central Austin, signs urge customers to wash their produce after purchase.
"We thought that a friendly reminder would be helpful for everyone because even if you're buying organic you don't necessarily know what the produce has been in contact with," said Christopher Peterson.
Store director Christopher Peterson hung the signs after learning of a cyclospora outbreak.
From May 27th through June 8th, Travis County saw a spike in the intestinal illness caused by the parasite.
According to the state health department the county had 79 confirmed cases of cyclosporiasis. That's four times more than the next highest amount which comes from Dallas County at 18.
There were 200 cyclosporiasis cases in all of 2014. So far this year, there have been 210.
Epidemiologists at the Austin-Travis County Health Department have been hard at work trying to determine the source asking those infected what they ate and where.
On Tuesday, the FDA named a possible culprit, cilantro from farms in Puebla, Mexico.
"There were very unsanitary conditions. I mean they actually found human feces and toilet paper in some of the growing areas for the cilantro other unsanitary conditions inadequate washing facilities for the workers. They actually found some of the cyclospora in the water used to wash the worker's hands," said Phil Huang, M.D.
The FDA placed partial import ban on the cilantro. Farms in Puebla were also linked to cyclospora outbreaks in 2013 and 2014.
"The good news is that the cases that we've seen associated with this cilantro outbreak that that's no longer, the spread is no longer occurring," said Huang.
To prevent illness wash your cilantro thoroughly if you're going to eat it raw. Health officials say cooking it will kill the parasite.