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  1. Outbreaks of Foodborne Illness

Outbreak Investigation of Cyclospora Illnesses Linked to Imported Fresh Basil, July 2019

FDA investigation has concluded.

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October 11, 2019

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), along with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and state and local partners, investigated a multistate outbreak of Cyclospora illnesses linked to fresh basil exported by Siga Logistics de RL de CV located in Morelos, Mexico.

FDA’s traceback investigation confirmed that the fresh basil available at points of sale where some consumers became ill was exported to the United States by Siga Logistics de RL de CV located in Morelos, Mexico.

Siga Logistics de RL de CV recalled potentially affected basil on July 24, 2019.  The firm has been cooperative with the investigation, ceasing production and distribution of the product. The firm ceased shipping for a period of time while they implemented corrective actions. FDA will continue to work with Siga in reviewing these corrective actions.

According to the CDC, this outbreak appears to be over. The FDA has completed its investigational activities.

Consumers no longer need to avoid fresh basil from Siga Logistics de RL de CV.

Case Counts

Total Illnesses: 241
Hospitalizations: 6
Deaths: 0
Last illness onset: July 26, 2019
States with Cases: CT, FL, GA, IA, MA, MN, NY, OH, RI, SC, WI. Exposures occurred at restaurants in five states: FL, MN, NY, OH, WI

What is Cyclospora?

Cyclospora cayetanensis is a parasite that is so small it can only be seen under a microscope. When people eat food or drink water that’s contaminated with Cyclospora, they can get an intestinal illness called cyclosporiasis.

Cyclospora is generally transmitted when infected feces contaminate food or water. It’s unlikely to be transmitted directly from person to person because the Cyclospora parasite needs time (days to weeks) after being passed in a bowel movement to become infectious for another person. 

The time between becoming infected and becoming sick is usually about one week. Cyclospora infects the small intestine (bowel) and usually causes watery diarrhea, with frequent, sometimes explosive, bowel movements. Other common symptoms include loss of appetite, weight loss, stomach cramps/pain, bloating, increased gas, nausea, and fatigue. People may also experience vomiting, body aches, headache, low-grade fever, and other flu-like symptoms. Some people who are infected with Cyclospora do not have any symptoms.  If not treated, the illness may last from a few days to a month or longer. Symptoms may seem to go away and then return one or more times (relapse). It’s common to feel very tired. 

People living or traveling in countries where cyclosporiasis is common, including certain tropical or subtropical regions of the world, may be at increased risk for infection. However, people living in other areas can become infected with Cyclospora by consuming food or water that has been contaminated with the parasite.

General Food Safety Tips for Restaurants and Retailers

Based on current information available, Cyclospora may be resistant to routine chemical disinfection methods such as those using chlorine. However, restaurants and retailers should still follow basic food safety practices:

  • Retailers, restaurants, and other food service operators should always practice safe food handling and preparation measures. It is recommended that they wash utensils, and surfaces with hot, soapy water before and after handling food.
  • Wash and sanitize display cases and refrigerators where potentially contaminated products were stored.
  • Wash and sanitize cutting boards, surfaces, and utensils used to prepare, serve, or store potentially contaminated products.
  • Wash hands with warm water and soap following the cleaning and sanitation process.
  • Regular frequent cleaning and sanitizing of food contact surfaces and utensils used in food preparation may help to minimize the likelihood of cross-contamination.

General Food Safety Tips for Consumers

People should consult their healthcare provider if they suspect that they have developed symptoms that resemble a Cyclospora infection.

Consumers should follow these steps for preventing foodborne illness:

  • 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.

Previous Updates

September 30, 2019

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), along with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and state and local partners, have been investigating a multistate outbreak of Cyclospora illnesses linked to fresh basil exported by Siga Logistics de RL de CV located in Morelos, Mexico.

FDA’s traceback investigation confirmed that the fresh basil available at points of sale where some consumers became ill was exported to the United States by Siga Logistics de RL de CV located in Morelos, Mexico. FDA continues its investigational activities.

Siga Logistics de RL de CV recalled potentially affected basil on July 24, 2019. The firm has been cooperative with the investigation, ceasing production and distribution of the product.

According to the CDC, this outbreak appears to be over.

August 16, 2019

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), along with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and state and local partners, are investigating a multistate outbreak of Cyclospora illnesses linked to fresh basil exported by Siga Logistics de RL de CV located in Morelos, Mexico.

Siga Logistics de RL de CV recalled potentially affected basil on July 24, 2019.

July 25, 2019

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), 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.

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.


Who to Contact

Consumers who have symptoms should contact their health care provider to report their symptoms and receive care.

To report a complaint or adverse event (illness or serious allergic reaction), you can

Visit www.fda.gov/fcic for additional consumer and industry assistance.

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