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Texas Health Officials Warn To Wash Hands Before Cooking

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BROWNSVILLE – The Texas Department of State Health Services is warning Texans to wash their hands and produce when preparing home cooked meals. A food-borne illness called Cyclospora is the cause of the stir.

"You want to wash any fresh produce well because Cyclospora has been linked to fresh imported produce," said Isabel Huerta, the Cameron County Health Department epidemiologist. 

Bluetown resident Carmen Chavez said she went grocery shopping with her sister and niece on Wednesday. She spoke to CHANNEL 5 NEWS while loading her groceries into the bed of her sister's truck.

"Once I get home I get them out, and clean them good," said Chavez. "Put them in my fridge and when I'm getting ready to cook, I wash them real good and cook."

The illness is caused by a parasite linked to fruits and vegetables being brought in from outside of the U.S. Health officials recommend cooking your food. The extreme heat kills the parasites that may be lurking in your produce.

Huerta said the best prevention is keeping your cooking conditions as clean as possible.

"You also want to wash your hands after going to the bathroom or before handling any food," said Huerta.

The effects of the illness are similar to the common stomach bug. 

"Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea. But it could also cause weight loss, fatigue loss of appetite," said Huerta.

A total of 148 cases were reported across the state in 2016. In June and July of this year, there were 68 cases, two of which were in the Valley.

Officials said they're still working to determine a definite cause in the uptick in cases.

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