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Wednesday, July 31, 2013 - 11:35pm
El Paso, TX (KDBC) — An intestinal illness has made hundreds across the country sick, and now it has claimed two victims in El Paso.
"Cyclospora" is a microscopic parasite that lives in human feces. If wastewater comes into contact with drinking water or fresh produce, the bug makes its way into the human body.
According to health experts, cyclospora then attaches itself to the walls of the small intestine, and lays new eggs.
Symptoms include weight loss, fatigue, vomiting, and violent diarrhea.
"We haven't had any known cases of cyclospora in El Paso in at least 9 years," said Robert Resendes, Public Health Director for the City of El Paso's Department of Public Health.
Cyclospora is rare in the US, but in just one month, it has made almost 400 hundred people across 15 states, including Texas, very sick.
According to Resendes, cyclospora is usually found in places like Africa, South and Central America, where cross-contamination between feces and food is comon.
Health officials in the US are now trying to pinpoint where it's coming from.
Investigators in Iowa and Nebraska, where the first cases were reported, are almost certain the cyclospora is linked specifically to prepackaged salad mix.
The Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention continue their investigation to confirm if the illness is linked to the produce.
Health officials say there's no need to avoid produce - just make sure to wash it thoroughly.
If you do experience any symptoms, you should see your doctor immediately.
Experts say the bug is easily treated with antibiotics and not generally fatal.