W.C. Health District Investigating Cyclospora Infection

Health Director Lou Kreidler says the Wichita Falls/Wichita County Public Health District was informed late yesterday about a local patient who had tested positive for cyclospora.

It's a food borne illness that has been linked to imported fresh produce from tropical or subtropical countries.

Not all fresh produce in your grocery store is grown in the U.S. and Wichita County health officials are trying to determine what the person ingested who tested positive for cyclospora.

"Cyclospora is a parasite and it is found in feces," says Teressa Stephenson, lead public health nurse at the health district.

Health officials say they got word late wednesday that someone had contracted the infection.

"It takes about a week for the symptoms to occur after they've ingested the parasite. Then they may experience profuse, watery diarrhea. They may have stomach cramps. Some people have some flu-like symptoms like a low grade fever. Fatigue is common symptom," Stephenson says.

They're symptoms nearly 300 people in seven states have had since mid-June.

While cyclospora is linked to imported fresh produce from tropical and subtropical countries the actual source of the illnesses is not yet known.

"We can all be paranoid and live in fear but I just choose not to and trust in the Lord that he's gonna take care of our babies and me and my husband," says concerned mother, Tiffany LaBruyere.

At Market Street, company officials say workers spray produce which serve as a cleansing agent and helps keep it fresh.

But officials also say during the summer their produce section contains very little food from abroad.

"We're just not importing much right now because most of what you'll see in our stores is either locally grown or at least grown in the United States," says Eddie Owens, communications director for United Supermarkets.

But regardless of where any produce was grown... Health officials say there is not much customers can do to detect or remove the

Cyclospora bug.

"It is recommended always to wash fresh fruits and vegetables but in this instance, it couldn't... definitely reduce the risk. It can still occur, even with washing," adds Stephenson.

Again, the source of the contamination has not been determined.

Local health officials say the person did not travel out of the country prior to coming down with symptoms earlier this month.

So now, they are trying to find out to find out what produce that person ate where it was purchased.

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