The FDA said in a statement the illnesses are “potentially linked to fresh basil exported by Siga Logistics de RL de CV located in Morelos, Mexico.” The company has agreed to voluntarily recall its basil due to the outbreak.
The federal agency also said it has “increased import screening on basil and will continue to investigate the cause and source of the outbreak as well as the distribution of products.”
Consumers, restaurants and retailers alike are advised to avoid fresh basil from Siga Logistics de RL de CV.
“If consumers cannot determine if the basil is from this company, they should avoid basil from Mexico. If they do not know what country the basil is from, they should avoid it,” the FDA advised.
Of the 132 sickened, at least four people have been hospitalized as a result of the outbreak, the FDA said. Exposure to cyclospora occurred in restaurants in Florida, Minnesota, New York and Ohio. The 11 states with cases are: Florida, New York, Georgia, South Carolina, Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Ohio, Rhode Island and Wisconsin.
Cyclospora, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), is a microscopic parasite that can cause an intestinal infection called cyclosporiasis. Symptoms typically include diarrhea, loss of appetite, weight loss, bloating, fatigue, nausea and stomach cramps, among other signs.
In the U.S., “foodborne outbreaks of cyclosporiasis have been linked to various types of imported fresh produce, such as raspberries, basil, snow peas, mesclun lettuce, and cilantro,” the CDC said, noting “no commercially frozen or canned produce has been implicated to date.”
Cyclospora is typically transmitted when food or water is contaminated with the parasite, per the FDA, which noted: “It’s unlikely to be transmitted directly from person to person because the Cyclospora parasite needs time (days to weeks) after being passed in a bowel movement to become infectious for another person.”
Cyclospora infections are typically more common in tropical and subtropical regions of the world.
Foodborne illnesses can be avoided, in part, by thoroughly washing fruits and vegetables and storing them correctly. You can read more about other preventative measures here.