French basil suspected in cyclospora outbreak

By wire services
Published June 4, 2005

TALLAHASSEE - Contaminated fresh basil is suspected as the most likely cause of an outbreak of the parasitic illness cyclospora that has sickened 300 Floridians, state health officials said Friday.

Officials don't know where the basil came from, or where it is being sold, said Health Secretary John O. Agwunobi.

A spokesman for the Health Department said the federal Food and Drug Administration has agreed to try to trace the contamination to its source.

Cyclospora isn't fatal, but can cause severe diarrhea and other painful symptoms. Cases have been reported in 32 Florida counties in all regions of the state going back to April.

Health professionals say fresh produce should be washed to prevent food-borne illnesses, but that washing may not prevent cyclospora infection.

Cyclospora are microscopic, single-celled organisms that can contaminate fresh produce and burrow in the small intestine.

The illness can be treated with antibiotics or could pass naturally within a period of a few days up to a month.

Bush signs expansion of ignition interlocks

TALLAHASSEE - Gov. Jeb Bush signed a bill Friday that expands the use of devices that prevent drunk people from starting their cars.

Courts have been allowed to require people with drunken driving convictions to install ignition interlocks, breath alcohol-sensing devices that they must blow into when trying to start their vehicle. If a device senses alcohol above a certain threshold, it prevents them from starting the engine.

The measure Bush signed (HB 261) lets the state require the device on some DUI offenders' vehicles without a court order if they want to get their driver's license back.