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Intestinal parasite may be linked to contaminated produce

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A small parasite is causing a big outbreak of intestinal infections across the U.S.

Forty-eight new cases were reported last week in Texas. A total of 353 cases have been found in 14 other states.

Cyclospora is a microscopic single-cell organism that causes cyclosporiasis -- an infection of the small intestine.

Health officials aren’t sure how people are ingesting the parasite, but in the past it has been linked to eating contaminated produce.

People in several states are suffering from symptoms like diarrhea, vomiting, loss of appetite and fatigue. The symptoms can last a few days, a month or sometimes longer.

The infection is not fatal.

“One thing that’s important to know is there are medicines that can help -- so this is not something that we’re seeing people die from,” Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen said.

Treatment for the infection typically consists of a combination of antibiotics, fluids and lots of rest.

No cases have been reported in North Carolina so far, but doctors across the country recommend washing your fruits and vegetables several times to avoid getting sick.