Cases of Cyclosporiasis Sore Across the Country
Since April 2023, the United States has seen a surge in cases of cyclosporiasis, an illness caused by the parasite Cyclospora (often from human feces) contaminating a food or water source. Those who are traveling or living in tropical regions are usually more susceptible to infection, however, outbreaks still occur within the United States. This year across 31 states there have been 581 reported cases of cyclosporiasis as of July 13th, 55 of which have been hospitalized. The states with the highest number of cases include Arizona, Georgia, New York Texas, and Alabama. An uptake of cyclosporiasis in the United States is common in the spring and summer months, however, this year boasts an unusually high number early into the season.
In past years, cases have typically been connected to fresh produce such as basil, snow peas, cilantro, raspberries, and lettuce, especially varieties that are imported to the United States from Latin America. Fresh produce is a common source of Cyclospora because of the sheer amount of people handling it and the varying conditions of the distribution facilities. One outbreak in Georgia and Alabama has been attributed to 20 of the 581 cases this year. In this instance, raw broccoli was found to be the culprit. The source of the remaining cases is still unknown.
The principal symptom of cyclosporiasis is diarrhea, but can also include nausea, cramping, fatigue, loss of appetite, weight loss, headaches, and vomiting. Those with compromised immune systems along with children and the elderly are more likely to develop severe symptoms. Symptoms of cyclosporiasis in some cases can go on for as long as months, cycling between worsening and improving symptoms. The recommended treatment plan is typically a combination of antibiotics such as Bactrim, Septra, or Cotrim along with rest and plenty of water/fluids. Symptoms typically begin within 2 weeks after consuming the contaminated food. It is therefore highly unlikely for Cyclospora to be passed from one person to another. The best prevention of Cyclospora infection is washing hands before and after handling fresh produce and after using the bathroom.
If someone has been infected with Cyclospora, they should contact their health provider immediately. If contacted by local health officials, the infected person should attempt to recall food that they had consumed two weeks prior to the onset of symptoms in attempts to find a common food that may be the culprit.