ABSTRACT

During July 2017, Texas public health officials noted an increase in the number of reported cyclosporiasis cases. They detected a cluster in the Houston metropolitan area that involved four locations of a Mediterranean restaurant chain, restaurant A. A case-control study was conducted among patrons of restaurant A to identify a common food vehicle among items containing fresh produce. In matched case-control ingredient-level analyses that included both probable and confirmed cases, consumption of green onions, red onions, tomatoes, and cabbage was significantly associated with illness. A substantial percentage of case patients reported consumption of green onions, and only green onions remained statistically significantly associated with illness, whether probable and confirmed cases were included in analyses (matched odds ratio: 11.3; 95% confidence interval: 2.5 to 104.7), or only confirmed cases were included in analyses (matched odds ratio: 17.6; 95% confidence interval: 2.5 to 775.7). These results provide evidence that green onions were the likely vehicle of infection. It was not possible to trace the green onions to their source due to the need to redirect public health resources to Hurricane Harvey response efforts in Texas.

HIGHLIGHTS
  • Green onions were significantly associated with illness (mOR: 11.3; 95% CI: 2.5 to 104.7).

  • CNHGQ was used to identify potential food sources of contamination.

  • Multiple jurisdictions worked together to identify a novel source of cyclosporiasis.

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