UPDATE: U.S. Cyclospora Outbreak Grows To 14 States, Hits Florida
On June 28, 2013, the U.S. Center for Disease Control was notified of two laboratory-confirmed cases of Cyclospora infection in Iowa residents who had become ill in June and did not have a history of international travel during the 14 days before the onset of illness. Since that date, the CDC has been collaborating with public health officials in multiple states and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to investigate an outbreak of cyclosporiasis.
As of July 24, 201, the CDC has been notified of 285 cases of Cyclospora infection in residents reported from 11 states: Iowa (138), Nebraska (70), Texas (66), Wisconsin (3), Georgia (2), Connecticut (1), Illinois (1), Kansas (1), Minnesota (1), New Jersey (1), and Ohio (1). So far, no cases have been reported in Florida.
Most of the illness onset dates have ranged from mid-June through early July with at least 18 persons reportedly hospitalized in three states. It is not yet clear whether the cases from all of the states are part of the same outbreak. The CDC says that no common events (e.g., social gatherings) have been identified among the case patients.
Foods Associated With Cyclospora
According to the CDC, no food items have been implicated to date, but public health authorities are pursuing all leads. Previous outbreak investigations have implicated various types of fresh produce.
What is Cyclospora?
Cyclospora cayetanensis is a parasite composed of one cell, too small to be seen without a microscope. This parasite causes an intestinal infection called cyclosporiasis.
How is Cyclospora spread?
Cyclospora is spread by people ingesting something - such as food or water - that was contaminated with feces (stool). Cyclospora needs time (days to weeks) after being passed in a bowel movement to become infectious for another person. Therefore, it is unlikely that Cyclospora is passed directly from one person to another.
Who is at risk for Cyclospora infection?
People living or traveling in tropical or subtropical regions of the world may be at increased risk for infection because cyclosporiasis is endemic (found) in some countries in these zones. In the United States, foodborne outbreaks of cyclosporiasis have been linked to various types of imported fresh produce.
According to the CDC, the time between becoming infected and becoming sick is usually about 1 week. Cyclospora infects the small intestine (bowel) and usually causes watery diarrhea, with frequent, sometimes explosive, bowel movements. Other common symptoms include loss of appetite, weight loss, stomach cramps/pain, bloating, increased gas, nausea, and fatigue. Vomiting, body aches, headache, fever, and other flu-like symptoms may be noted. Some people who are infected with Cyclospora do not have any symptoms.
How long can the symptoms last?
The CDC say that if not treated, the illness may last from a few days to a month or longer. Symptoms may seem to go away and then return one or more times (relapse). It’s common to feel very tired.
How is Cyclospora infection prevented?
The CDC reccommends avoiding food or water that might have been contaminated with stool may help prevent Cyclospora infection. People who have previously been infected with Cyclospora can become infected again.