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Frequently Asked Questions: Cyclosporiasis (Cyclospora Infection)

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Frequently Asked Questions: Cyclosporiasis (Cyclospora Infection) 

What is Cyclospora?

Cyclosporiasis is an intestinal infection caused by a small parasite called Cyclospora cayetanensis. Cyclospora infects the small intestine (bowel) and usually causes symptoms similar to the stomach flu (i.e., watery diarrhea, with frequent, sometimes explosive, bowel movement).

How is Cyclospora spread?

Cyclospora is spread by people ingesting something, such as uncooked food or water, that was contaminated with feces (stool).

Is Cyclospora spread from person to person?

No, people only become infected with Cyclospora by ingesting a mature form of the parasite.

Persons are encouraged to continue the good practice of washing vegetables and fruits before consuming.

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 found in these areas. In the U.S., foodborne outbreaks of cyclosporiasis have been linked to various types of imported fresh vegetables and berries.

What are the symptoms of Cyclospora infection?

Cyclospora usually causes watery diarrhea, with frequent, sometimes explosive, bowel movements that starts about one week after exposure. 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?

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. People who are in poor health or who have weakened immune systems may be at higher risk for severe or prolonged illness.

What should I do if I think I might be infected with Cyclospora?

Persons who think they may be infected should see their health care provider.

How is Cyclospora infection diagnosed?

Your health care provider will ask you to submit stool specimens to see if you are infected. Identification of this parasite in stool requires special laboratory tests. In addition, your health care provider might have your stool checked for other organisms that can cause similar symptoms.

How is Cyclospora infection treated?

Cyclosporiasis can be treated with antibiotics, although most healthy persons will recover without antibiotic treatment. However, it is important that all people who have diarrhea should also rest and drink plenty of fluids.

How is Cyclospora infection prevented?

Avoiding food or water contaminated with stool may help prevent Cyclospora infection. People who have previously been infected with Cyclospora can become infected again.

There is no vaccine for cyclosporiasis.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) monitors the occurrence of cyclosporiasis in the U.S. and helps State health departments identify and investigate cyclosporiasis outbreaks to prevent additional cases of illness.

For more information, visit the CDC’s webpage on Cyclospora infection- http://www.cdc.gov/parasites/cyclosporiasis/.