What: This Media Monday Spotlight is on Cyclospora. On October 1st, 2021, CDC reported 156 additional Cyclospora cases in the past month. A total of 1020 cases were confirmed in people who had no history of international travel during the 14-day period before the illness occurred. 36 states and New York City have reported the case of Cyclospora. 70 people were hospitalized who reported eating various types of leafy greens, but any specific type has not been identified.
Cyclospora is an intestinal infection caused by the parasite Cyclospora cayetanensis resulting from consuming food or water contaminated with feces (CDC, 2020). The previous outbreak has been reported from contaminated fresh foods like basil, cilantro, raspberries, lettuce, and snow peas. Here are few facts about Cyclospora from the CDC (2020):
· People living or traveling where Cyclospora is endemic might be at increased risk.
· Infections are most common in spring and summer
· Symptoms: infects the small intestine, watery diarrhea with frequent bowel movements, loss of appetite, bloating, and stomach cramps.
· Some people can be asymptomatic.
· Illness may last from few days to a month or longer.
· Recommended treatment with antibiotics trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole.
Why Important: Cyclospora has no vaccine available to prevent the infection. Even though the symptoms may seem to go away, people can become infected again. If not treated properly, serious complications are most likely to occur that may include disorders of malabsorption, reactive arthritis, inflammation of the gallbladder, and possibly, Guillain-Barre Syndrome (Desk, 2021). People of all ages are at risk for infection.
Health Communication Opportunities:
The attached link is a YouTube video that discusses how to avoid Cyclospora. The infection usually passes through feces that get into the water supply. Most cases of infection are coming from the imported foods from tropical countries. It is very important to wash the vegetable and fruits thoroughly with water or vinegar for about 1-2 minutes. Once the symptoms occur, antibiotics can be taken after consulting a health care provider. A laboratory test needs to be done as the infection can reoccur. The basic food and safety hygiene practices like washing hands, foods, utensils, and storing vegetables can be used to educate people to prevent infection.
Public Health Implications:
As a food-borne illness, interventions in food productions, processing, and storage can help prevent food from getting contaminated with bacteria. Increasing awareness and teaching people to follow safe fruit and vegetable handling practices may help to prevent the infection. Some of the preventive measures from the CDC (2020) includes:
· Wash hands with soap and water before and after handling or preparing foods and vegetables.
· Avoid water and food that could be contaminated by feces.
· Rinse all fruits and vegetables thoroughly before eating or cooking.
· Refrigerate cut or cooked foods within 2 hours separately from raw meat and seafood.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2020, September 17). CDC – cyclosporiasis – general information – cyclosporiasis faqs. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved October 2, 2021, from https://www.cdc.gov/parasites/cyclosporiasis/gen_info/faqs.html#what_cyclo .
Desk, N. (2021, July 30). Cyclospora infections continue to increase; no common source found yet. Food Safety News. Retrieved October 2, 2021, from https://www.foodsafetynews.com/2021/07/cyclospora-infections-continue-to-increase-no-common-source-found-yet/ .
Outbreak News Today. (2021, October 1). Cyclospora cases top 1000 in the US, 36 states reporting cases. Retrieved October 2, 2021, from http://outbreaknewstoday.com/cyclospora-cases-top-1000-in-the-us-36-states-reporting-cases-56379/ .