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Basil Cyclospora Outbreak

Posted in Cyclospora,Cyclospora,Our Blog,Outbreaks & Recalls on July 25, 2019

Stop! Before you make that pesto sauce or use that basil in your ratatouille, check your stock. News has just broken that 132 people are sick with cyclospora linked to fresh basil imported from Mexico. Here is everything we know about this Basil Cyclospora Outbreak:

FDA Announcement and Warnings

The FDA has announced that they “along with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and state and local partners, are investigating a multistate outbreak of Cyclospora illnesses potentially linked to fresh basil exported by Siga Logistics de RL de CV located in Morelos, Mexico.”

Although the investigation is ongoing, CDC’s analysis of epidemiologic information indicates that contaminated fresh basil is the likely cause of the illnesses. FDA’s traceback investigation indicates that the fresh basil available at points of sale where consumers became ill was exported to the United States by Siga Logistics de RL de CV located in Morelos, Mexico. FDA has requested a voluntary recall and the firm has agreed. FDA has increased import screening on basil and will continue to investigate the cause and source of the outbreak as well as the distribution of products.

Outbreak Stats

Here is what we currently know:

  • Total Confirmed Illnesses: 132
  • Hospitalizations: 4
  • Deaths: 0 (Thankfully!)
  • Last illness onset: July 9, 2019
  • States with Cases: CT, FL, GA, IA, MA, MN, NY, OH, RI, SC, WI.
  • Case Counts are: CT (1), FL (22), GA (2), IA (2), MA (1), MN (29), NY (69), OH (3), RI (1), SC (1), and WI (1).
  • Exposures occurred at restaurants in four states: FL, MN, NY, OH

It is likely that more cases will be linked to this outbreak. This is because it takes several weeks from the time of reporting to confirming the link.

We have also learned from the CDC that illnesses started on dates ranging from June 14, 2019 to July 9, 2019. ll people ranged in age from 19 to 98 years with a median age of 54. Of 96 people with available information, 74 % were female.

Recall?

Not yet. But soon. According to the FDA’s website:

” [The] FDA is working with the firm to facilitate a recall. As this outbreak investigation continues, the FDA will work with our Mexican food safety regulatory counterparts to better define the cause and source of this outbreak. Additionally, the FDA will update this advisory as more information becomes available.”

Thus far, the FDA has requested a voluntary recall of basil products exported by Siga logistics de RL de CV and the firm has agreed to initiate a recall.

In the meantime, the FDA recommends that you should not to buy, eat, or serve any fresh basil exported by Siga Logistics de RL de CV located in Morelos, Mexico. Not sure of where your basil is from? Don’t eat it!

Also, do not eat or serve uncooked dishes using basil (like pesto or salad), that may include fresh basil from Mexico — unless you are certain that the fresh basil was not exported by Siga Logistics de RL de CV.

Cyclospora Nationwide

Nationwide, 32 states are reporting cyclospora illnesses this year – not necessarily related to this outbreak. According to the latest from the CDC, “As of July 23, 2019, 580 laboratory-confirmed cases of cyclosporiasis were reported to CDC by 30 states, District of Columbia and New York City in people who became ill since May 1, 2019 and who had no history of international travel during the 14-day period before illness onset…multiple clusters of cases associated with different restaurants or events are being investigated by state public health authorities, CDC, and FDA.”

It is important to note that a lot of cases of cyclosporiasis could not be directly linked to an outbreak. The CDC says this is in part because of the lack of validated molecular typing tools for C. cayetanensis.

How Do You Get Sick with Cyclospora

People become infected with Cyclospora by ingesting sporulated oocysts. According to the CDC, “this most commonly occurs when food or water contaminated with feces is consumed. An infected person sheds unsporulated (immature, non-infective) Cyclospora oocysts in the feces. The oocysts are thought to require at least 1–2 weeks in favorable environmental conditions to sporulate and become infective. Therefore, direct person-to-person transmission is unlikely, as is transmission via ingestion of newly contaminated food or water.”

Past outbreaks of cyclospora have been traced to imported produce and herbs.

How You Can Protect Yourself

Understanding how Cyclospora infection is transmitted, a person can take control of the life cycle and successfully avoid becoming infected.

  • Use caution when traveling to areas where Cyclospora are endemic. In some tropical locations, the bacteria live in the environment and transmission is at a much higher rate than in other parts of the world.  Refer to the CDC’s travel notices page for updated information on risks associated with your destination.
  • Use a clean water source. Most public water supply is safe for consumption.  Always pay attention for advisories to boil water in the event of known contamination from the water source.  Water from rivers, lakes, and streams should be treated with an appropriate sterilization method.  When traveling to higher risk areas
  • Always wash fresh produce with clean water thoroughly before consuming. Produce consumed fresh is not killed by heat, so bacteria may be present on the surface from growing near an infected water source. Be sure to use safe, clean water to clean produce.
  • Protect yourself by washing your hands prior to preparing, serving, and/or eating food. This will help reduce the spread of infection if you have come in contact with the bacteria in daily contact.

The FDA also recommends:

  • Wash the inside walls and shelves of the refrigerator, cutting boards and countertops, and utensils that may have contacted contaminated foods; then sanitize them with a solution of one tablespoon of chlorine bleach to one gallon of hot water; dry with a clean cloth or paper towel that has not been previously used.
  • Wash and sanitize surfaces used to serve or store potentially contaminated products.
  • Wash hands with warm water and soap following the cleaning and sanitation process.
  • Produce items should be rinsed in clean, running water without the use of cleaners or soaps. After washing, dry produce with a clean cloth towel or paper towel to further reduce bacteria that may be present on the surface.

The Lange Law Firm –www.MakeFoodSafe.com

Our mission is to help families who have been harmed by contaminated food or water.  When corporations cause Cyclospora food poisoning outbreaks or Legionnaires’ disease outbreaks, we use the law to hold them accountable.  The Lange Law Firm is the only law firm in the nation solely focused on representing families in food poisoning lawsuits and Legionnaires disease lawsuits.

If you or your child was infected with Cyclospora or any other parasite after eating at Cooper’s Hawk Winery and are interested in making a legal claim for compensation, we have a Cyclospora lawyer ready to help you.  Call us for a free no obligation legal consultation at (833) 330-3663 or send us an e-mail here.

By: Candess Zona-Mendola, Editor (Non-Lawyer)