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Local Berries Not Linked to Outbreak

Ventura County strawberries are not those being tested by state health officials for the diarrhea-causing cyclospora disease, local agriculture officials said Friday.

Tests are being conducted on water and soil samples from berries in the central coast region where production is at its peak, said Ventura County Farm Bureau Executive Director Rex Laird.

But because this area’s berries are at the end of their spring season, it is considered unlikely that local fruit is to blame for recent cyclospora-associated illnesses in Texas, New York and Florida.

It is unclear whether cases in those states can be directly linked to strawberries, but some people who have fallen ill said they had eaten the fruit beforehand. Laird said he thinks the connection is slim, noting that in a case in Houston, a food-handler was found to have the disease.

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All testing to date on California berries has been negative, he said.

“These are isolated outbreaks in cyclospora compared to the millions of [strawberry] flats we have going out of the state,” Laird said.

“I think this is going to turn out to be a case of people jumping to erroneous conclusions,” he said.


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