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48 in Texas acquire intestinal infection

By Zaina Adamu, CNN
updated 7:52 PM EDT, Thu July 18, 2013
"it is important to thoroughly rinse your fruits and vegetables several times," Dr. Christopher Perkins says.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Almost 50 new cases of cyclospora infection reported in Texas
  • Illness is caused by ingesting food or water contaminated with feces
  • The source of the infection is unknown

(CNN) -- Forty-eight new cases of an intestinal infection caused by ingesting food or water contaminated with feces have been reported in Texas this past week alone, officials said Thursday.

Most reports come from the Dallas/Fort Worth area. The source of the illness is unknown.

In the past, imported fresh produce led to outbreaks of cyclospora infection in the United States. The Texas Department of State Health Services has not confirmed whether the latest reports are produce-related.

"DCHHS is continuing to investigate the possible food sources of contamination and who may have been exposed to them," Zachary Thompson, the department's director said in a statement.

The outbreak may be related to cyclospora reports in Iowa and Nebraska, according to the department's press release.

On Tuesday, officials issued a health advisory warning residents of the infection.

In 2012, 44 cases of the infection were reported in Texas. Another 14 cases were reported the year before.

Symptoms include watery diarrhea, loss of appetite and nausea.

The infection is not highly contagious because it must pass in bowel movements before it can spread to others, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

People in tropical regions are at an increased risk of getting the infection.

Medication is available for people who contract the infection. Those with weaker immune systems may require longer forms of treatment.

"To decrease the risk of eating fresh produce it is important to thoroughly rinse your fruits and vegetables several times," said Dr. Christopher Perkins, the Texas department's medical director said in a statement.

CNN's Joe Sutton contributed to this report.

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