Health officials: 2 cases of Cyclospora stomach bug confirmed in - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Health officials: 2 cases of Cyclospora stomach bug confirmed in Smith County


The Northeast Texas Public Health District says they are investigating two cases of Cyclospora that were reported Thursday in Smith County. 

NET Health officials are worried there could be more cases in the coming weeks. 

"I bet you there are people who are walking around with it right now and just don't know it because it isn't always the intense gastrointestinal event, sometimes it is a mild building up and then tapering off and then it comes back," says Russell Hopkins, a director at the Northeast Texas Public Health District.

Hopkins say the two people who are sick in Smith County are not related, but they are investigating if they got the stomach bug from the same place. 

The Centers for Disease Control says Cyclospora has affected nearly 300 people in at least eleven states. As of Thursday, The Texas Department of State Health Services reported Texas had 80 cases of the illness, one of the highest in the country. 

Cyclospora is an intestinal illness caused by a one-cell parasite invisible to the naked eye. It takes around two weeks to incubate then causes intense diarrhea, loss of appetite, weight loss, stomach cramps and pain, bloating, nausea and fatigue. 

"It's typically a lower intestinal symptom like diarrhea and it can go on for a very long time, for weeks," says Dr. Ed Dominguez, an infectious disease specialist in Dallas, TX. 

NET Health officials say the illness is believed to be foodborne. People get sick by ingesting water or food that has been contaminated with feces passed by a person who is already infected. They say to avoid getting sick people should thoroughly wash their fruits and vegetables. 

"Don't eat them raw, straight out of a bag, or off the shelf, or even from the farmers market," Hopkins says.

NET Health is working to track down how the people in East Texas got the parasite. 

"We look at their lifestyle as far as where they shop, what kinds of foods they eat, how they prepare it, and what restaurants do they frequent," says Hopkins.

They will then take that information to the State Health Department to decide if all of the recent Cyclospora cases are somehow related.

People who think they have been infected should see their doctor immediately. Untreated symptoms can last from a few days to a month and may go away for a while before returning. 

Collin, Dallas, Denton, El Paso, Ellis, Hood, Hunt, Johnson, Montague, Parker, Potter, Tarrant, Tom Green, Travis, Victoria and Williamson Counties in Texas have also reported cases of Cyclospora.

Health officials say Cyclospora is most dangerous for children and elderly people. 

As of Thursday, the CDC says there is no officials source of the infections. Previous cases have come from imported foods. The parasite is usually found in tropical of subtropical countries. 

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