A recent surge in reports of illnesses due to the parasite Cyclospora has prompted DSHS to investigate the infections in hopes of determining a common source. DSHS has received reports of 151 Cyclosporiasis cases from around Texas this year.

Cyclosporiasis is an intestinal illness caused by consuming food or water contaminated with the Cyclospora parasite. The major symptom is watery diarrhea lasting a few days to a few months. Additional symptoms may include loss of appetite, fatigue, weight loss, abdominal cramps, bloating, increased gas, nausea, vomiting and a low fever. People who think they may have a Cyclospora infection should contact their health care provider.

DSHS recommends thoroughly washing fresh produce, but that may not entirely eliminate the risk because Cyclospora can be difficult to wash off. Cooking will kill the parasite.

Last year, Texas had 200 cases, some of which were associated with cilantro from the Puebla region in Mexico.

An Austin man claims he and five of his friends came down with Cyclospora after eating at the same Austin restaurant in May.

“The one thing we had in common on all of our plates was this cilantro, tomato, onion and pico de gallo garnish,” said Charles Brown.

Brown is one of the 151 people across Texas who have been sickened by Cyclospora, 63 of those cases in Travis County.

He felt fine until nearly a week after dinner with friends. That’s when he says he thought he was getting the flu. Both Brown and his husband were exhibiting flu-like symptoms.

A doctor diagnosed him with the flu, but Brown’s symptoms kept getting worse.

“I thought, ‘This isn’t right, I’ve got to go to the hospital,'” Brown said. “It felt like someone was literally punching me in my gut: explosive diarrhea, loss of appetite, low-grade fever and stomach cramps.”