Where does Cyclospora come from?
Cyclospora is spread by people ingesting water or food contaminated with infected stool. For example, exposure to contaminated water among farm workers may have been the original source in raspberry-associated outbreaks in North America. Cyclospora needs time (one to several weeks) after being passed in a bowel movement to become infectious. Therefore, it is unlikely that Cyclospora is passed directly from one person to another. It is not known whether or not animals can be infected and pass infection to people.
Cyclospora infects the small intestine (bowel) and usually causes watery diarrhea, bloating, increased gas, stomach cramps, loss of appetite, nausea, low-grade fever, and fatigue. In some cases, vomiting, explosive diarrhea, muscle aches, and substantial weight loss can occur. Some people who are infected with Cyclospora do not have any symptoms. The time between becoming infected and becoming ill is usually about one week. If not treated, the illness may last from only a few days up to six weeks. Symptoms also may recur one or more times (relapse). In addition, people who have previously been infected with Cyclospora can become infected again.
When diagnosing Cyclospora, health care providers should ask the patient to submit stool specimens to see if he or she is infected. Because testing for Cyclospora infection can be difficult, the patient may be asked to submit several stool specimens over several days. Identification of this parasite in stool requires special laboratory tests that are not routinely done. Therefore, health care providers should specifically request testing for Cyclospora if it is suspected. A patient’s health care provider might have his or her stool checked for other organisms that can cause similar symptoms.
The recommended treatment for infection with Cyclospora is a combination of two antibiotics, trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole, also known as Bactrim, Septra, or Cotrim. People who have diarrhea should rest and drink plenty of fluids. No alternative drugs have been identified yet for people with Cyclospora infection who are unable to take sulfa drugs. Some experimental studies, however, have suggested that ciprofloxacin or nitazoxanide may be effective, although to a lesser degree than trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole. See your health care provider to discuss alternative treatment options.
Serious and long-term risks
Cyclospora has been associated with a variety of chronic complications such as Guillain-Barré syndrome, reactive arthritis or Reiter’s syndrome, biliary disease, and acalculous cholecystitis. Since Cyclospora infections tend to respond to the appropriate treatment, complications are more likely to occur in individuals who are not treated or not treated promptly. Extraintestinal infection also appears to occur more commonly in individuals with a compromised immune system.
Avoiding water or food that may be contaminated is advisable when traveling. Drinking bottled or boiled water and avoiding fresh ready-to-eat produce should help to reduce the risk of infection in regions with high rates of infection. Improving sanitary conditions in developing regions with poor environmental and economic conditions is likely to help to reduce exposure. Washing fresh fruits and vegetables at home may help to remove some of the organisms, but Cyclospora may remain on produce even after washing.
1. Division of Parasitic Diseases – Cyclospora Infection
Fact sheets and studies with cause, symptoms, prevention, and treatment.
2. Cyclospora Facts – People most likely get cyclospora infection by eating food or drinking water.
3. Cyclospora cayetanensis – History
4. US FDA/CFSAN – Bad Bug Book – Cyclospora cayetanensis
Provides basic facts about cyclospora cayetanensis.
5. Cyclospora Parasite – Digestion and digestive-related information. Digestion information covering the digestion system and related diseases, procedures and tests, medications, and treatments.
6. Food Research Institute Briefings: Cryptosporidium and Cyclospora. Few people, even in the medical establishment, knew much about Cyclospora and Cryptosporidium until recently. www.wisc.edu/fri/briefs/crypto.htm
7. eMedicine – Cyclospora : Article by William H Shoff, MD, DTMandH. Cyclospora – Cyclospora cayetanensis (8-10 µm in diameter), a coccidian protozoan parasite, produces an intestinal infection.
8. Nebraska HHS System: Cyclospora Epidemiology Fact Sheet
Cyclospora is a parasite that is composed of one cell.
9. Cyclospora Lawyer & Attorney: Marler Clark: Cyclospora Blog
Cyclosporiasis is a disease due to Cyclospora cayetanensis, an emerging coccidian.