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Basil imported from Mexico making hundreds of people sick

July 26, 2019 06:29 PM

ALBANY - New York State Department of Health officials are urging people to check their fresh basil. They said contaminated herbs from a Mexican company likely caused over 500 people across 11 states to get sick over the last month.

Department of Health officials say over 200 cases of cyclosporiasis have been confirmed in New York, 69 of them in the Capital Region.

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The company believed to have exported the contaminated basil is Sega Logistics. State health officials said if your basil was exported from Mexico by that company you should throw that away immediately, even if you ate some and didn't get sick. 

Spotting the symptoms of cyclosporiasis can also be a little tricky. Symptoms include diarrhea, bloating, weight loss, stomach cramps, nausea, and fatigue.

Brad Hutton is the Deputy Commissioner of the New York State Office of Public Health. He said symptoms can occur one to two weeks after consuming the contaminated herb.

"You know many people for diarrheal illness might not automatically go to the provider," Hutton said. "But if it's persistent for three days or more - especially if they think that it's potentially associated with basil consumption, they should go."

Hutton said the symptoms could clear on their own, but they could also recur weeks later, so he recommends seeing your physician if you think you’ve contracted cyclosporiasis.

Hutton said it's still unclear how the basil became contaminated.

"I don't think we know at this point specifics of the cause in this instance but often times irrigation that's contaminated in the product growth or handling," he said.

Hutton said cooperation and quick reaction from health providers in the Capital Region helped lead to the Food and Drug Administration issuing an advisory.

"This has been a really great collaboration among several local health departments in the area," he said. "Albany, Schenectady, Montgomery, Saratoga a lot of good communicable disease detective work to help identify what the commonalities were among people who were getting sick, among the venues who were basically fully cooperating as well and I think a lot of the investigation work that was done here in New York really helped contribute to the federal action that was taken."


MORE INFORMATION: CDC: Cyclosporasis

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Emily Burkhard

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