- We don’t think much of parasites in the United States as a source of illness because they seem like such tropical diseases, however, there are quite a few problems caused by parasites here, some that are transported to us, especially on food. Recently, in Texas, an infection caused by a protozoan, Cyclospora cayetanensis resulted in diarrhea-type illness in Texas. The culprit was cilantro imported from Peubla, Texas!
- Cyclospora has been an occasional culprit of gastrointestinal infections in the United States. it is not endemic, but rather is tropical or sub-tropical in it’s origins.
- It is a single celled organisms that is spread from fecally contaminated food and water.
- Food products that have been found to carry Cyclospora in past outbreaks include snow peas, raspberries, and basil. No frozen products have been associated with outbreaks. It can occur at any time of the year but mostly in spring and summer months.
- Symptoms of infection develop in a week, resulting in abdominal bloating and cramps, with primarily diarrhea, less often, there may be vomiting. Infected people can lose a lot of weight. Symptoms may last weeks to months with diarrhea alternating with constipation even.
- It is diagnosed by examining stool for the parasite specifically. There is no blood test for this. Its’s treatment is with a sulfa- based antibiotic (trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole).
- Cyclospora is not killed by routine disinfection and sanitation measures, but it is best to wash fruit off thoroughly.
- Do you have this infection? Unlikely, but in a group setting of infection, especially with the symptoms listed above, it is something to consider.
http://www.cdc.gov/parasites/cyclosporiasis/publications.html <— Link to prior outbreaks of Cyclospora in the United States.