British Columbians are being urged to wash their hands and food carefully after a parasitic illness outbreak across the province.

The B.C. Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) published a press release last Friday, on August 4, reminding people to take precautions in order to prevent gastrointestinal illness.

The authority said in the news release that, in 2023, 43 cases of Cyclospora infections have been registered so far in the province. That is the highest case count of the infections caused by the parasite, surpassing the 41 cases reported to BCCDC back in 2017 during the same time of the year.

The parasite is usually found in tropical and subtropical areas, including places like Peru, Cuba, India, Nepal, Mexico, Guatemala, Dominican Republic, and Southeast Asia.

Cyclospora infection can occur due to eating contaminated, imported raw produce, especially leafy greens, fresh herbs and berries. Locally-grown produce is not known to carry Cyclospora,” BCCDC said in the press release.

While most cases of Cyclospora infections in the province are related to travel, there are still locally-acquired ones.

In the release, in order to avoid any risks, BCCDC advised people to wash their hands before handling food, wash fruits and vegetables, such as broccoli, raspberries, lettuce and others, as thoroughly as possible before eating them.

They also advised people to cook fruits and vegetables when possible, and to not drink untreated water from streams, rivers, lakes, ponds or shallow wells.

Some of the symptoms include diarrhea, abdominal cramps, nausea, vomiting, and occasionally fever. Anyone who is experiencing any of these symptoms is advised to seek medical help.