Basil Imported from Mexico linked to Cyclosporiasis
Ocimum basilicum, or, Basil, the popular herb most often associated with sauces and pasta, is part of a far-reaching Cyclospora outbreak. A member of the mint family, basil shows up in Italian cuisine, Thai cuisine and Vietnamese dishes. With roughly sixty varieties, however, it hardly ends there. Not surprising then, that nearly a dozen different states have reported cases of illness linked to this latest outbreak related to basil. According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) the basil contaminated with Cyclospora was imported from a Mexican company called Siga Logistics de RL de CV.
The FDA is working closely with Siga Logistics de RL de CV to halt distribution of this product and recall all basil already distributed. The company has agreed to the recall. There have actually been hundreds of reported cases of Cyclosporiasis in the US in the previous few months, however, only a specific cluster of illnesses have been definitively linked to the basil in question, from Mexico. The confirmed cases involve more than 130 individuals from 11 states including New York, Ohio, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Florida, Indiana, South Carolina and Georgia. And, at this time, 4 restaurants have been identified in the outbreak. At least 4 people have been hospitalized but there are no reported deaths.
The culprit in this outbreak, identified as Cyclosporiasis, is an infection of the intestines due to parasites. Diagnosis of the infection is achieved by examination of the ill person’s stool. Infection can result in weight loss, diarrhea, cramps, bloat and nausea amongst other symptoms. Quite common in some regions of the world, travelers from the US can experience situational risk of exposure. Yet, not a common infection here in the states, when there is a report of multiple cases overlapping geographically or behaviorally, public health agencies understand there is cause for concern and search for the origin and reach of the product. As in this outbreak, health officials are certain that at least a good number of the infections are related to this imported basil. Consumers and restaurants are urged to discontinue use of basil known to be imported from Mexico as well as basil from an unknown origin.