Cyclospora
© CDC/ DPDx - Melanie Moser
The parasite Cyclospora can cause intestinal illness. Above, an image taken with a microscope showing Cyclospora eggs (red) in a stool sample.
A food poisoning outbreak tied to 132 cyclospora illnesses in 11 states was likely caused by fresh basil imported from Mexico by Siga Logistics de RL de CV, the Food and Drug Administration announced late Thursday. Four people have been hospitalized.

The investigation is ongoing, but the agency has requested a voluntary recall, and Siga Logistics has agreed. The FDA is working with the company to facilitate the recall.

Cyclospora is a parasite that spreads when people eat food (or drink water) that has come into contact with contaminated feces. Illnesses that are part of this outbreak have been reported in Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Rhode Island, South Carolina, and Wisconsin. In Florida, Minnesota, New York, and Ohio, some people were exposed to cyclospora at restaurants. The FDA did not name the restaurants.

The FDA did not immediately respond to a request for comment and a receptionist at Siga Logistics said no one was available to comment right away.

What Consumers Should Do

Consumers should not use or eat any fresh basil imported by Siga Logistics, the FDA advised.

If you already bought fresh basil and can't determine where it is from — or if you don't know the importer but do know it came from Mexico — throw it away.

Fresh, uncooked basil often shows up in salads or in pesto, and as whole or chopped leaves in many restaurant dishes. So avoid ordering dishes with basil at restaurants, and ask that basil not be used to garnish your dish, unless the restaurant can assure you the herb didn't come from Siga Logistics.

If you had basil in your refrigerator that might have been contaminated, or if you have used basil in the past few months, do a thorough cleaning. Wash and sanitize affected areas of your refrigerator and countertops, as well as cutting boards and utensils, and be sure to wash your hands with soap and warm water when you're done.

Symptoms of Cyclospora

Symptoms of cyclospora usually emerge about a week after being infected, and the illness can last anywhere from a few days to a month or more.

Symptoms usually include watery, sometimes explosive diarrhea. Many people with cyclospora also experience fatigue, loss of appetite, stomach cramps, bloating, and nausea. In some cases vomiting, body aches, and flu-like symptoms can occur. Sometimes cyclospora symptoms go away and then return, and some people with the infection do not experience symptoms at all.