FDA Investigates Multi-State Outbreak of Cyclosporiasis

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) along with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and state and local officials are investigating a multi-state outbreak of Cyclospora infections possibly linked to undetermined food products.

According to reports from the CDC, several state health departments have reported Cyclospora infections. As of July 18, 2013, the CDC has been notified of more than 200 cases of Cyclospora infection in residents of multiple states, including Iowa, Nebraska, Texas and Wisconsin. Illinois has also notified CDC of one case that may have been acquired out of state.  It is not yet clear whether the cases from all of the states are part of the same outbreak. The investigation into this outbreak continues in order to identify possible sources of the outbreak.

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.

Cyclospora is spread by people ingesting something -- such as food or water -- that was contaminated with the parasite. 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.

People can become infected with Cyclospora by consuming food or water contaminated with the parasite.  People living or travelling in countries where cyclosporiasis is endemic, including certain tropical or subtropical regions of the world may be at increased risk for infection.

The time between becoming infected and becoming sick is usually about one 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.  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). Its common to feel very tired.

Source: FDA