WESTFIELD, NJ – A diarrhea-causing condition linked to fresh basil grown at a single farm in Mexico struck nearly 30 people in Westfield and the municipalities served by its regional health department, local health officials learned this week.
Westfield Regional Health Department officials detailed the local impact of the nationwide outbreak of cyclospora linked to fresh basil at Monday’s Board of Health meeting.
The 25 to 30 area cases include those reported in Westfield and the seven additional municipalities served by the health department: Chatham Borough, Fanwood, Garwood, Mountainside, New Providence, Roselle Park and Summit. The cases first showed up in the area in May, officials said.
Nationwide, the Food and Drug Administration reported 132 cases associated with this year's most recent outbreak across multiple states linked to the farm in Mexico.
“We know about this one farm. It may be other farms,” said Megan Avallone, director of the Westfield Regional Health Department.
This particular outbreak traces back to an issue at a farm in Mexico with contaminated basil. People who have ingested food or water contaminated with feces spread the illness, according to the CDC.
One of the difficulties tied in with the spread of cyclospora is that it's hard to pinpoint what providers of produce, are contributing to the problem, officials said. Many times one provider gets its vegetables from other providers, who get their vegetables from a third provider, the officials said.
Basil grown in the United States – including that grown in New Jersey – was not implicated in the recall, NJ Flavor reported.
Common symptoms of this illness include dry mouth, diarrhea, loss of appetite, cramping and bloating, according to the CDC.
There are several antibiotics that are used to treat this illness. Resting and medications to control diarrhea are also considered helpful, the CDC says.