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Cyclospora Overview and Prevention

What is cyclosporiasis and what are the symptoms?

Cyclosporiasis is an infectious disease caused by a parasite called Cyclospora. Most people infected with Cyclospora develop watery diarrhea, stomach cramping, bloating or increased gas, fatigue, and nausea. Symptoms typically start around seven days after ingesting the parasite. Sometimes people infected with Cyclospora will have no symptoms at all.

How long does it last?

Most people with cyclosporiasis typically feel better within 1 to 2 weeks, but some symptoms like diarrhea can relapse or last up to a month or longer. People with healthy immune systems can recover with extra fluids and rest. Others may need an antibiotic, such as trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole (Bactrim), prescribed by their health care provider.

How does it spread?

Cyclosporiasis is more common during the spring and summer months. Cyclospora is too small to be seen without a microscope and spreads from ingesting food or water contaminated with infected stool (feces). It is most commonly found in fresh produce (fruits and vegetables), such as raspberries, snow peas, mesclun lettuce, basil, and cilantro. Cyclospora is not spread directly from one person to another.

How can I prevent Cyclospora infections?

Avoiding food or water that may have been contaminated with stool is the best way to prevent infection. However, following proper hand hygiene and food safety measures can help reduce risk.

Wash your hands with soap and water before and after handling, preparing, or eating fresh produce, and after using the bathroom or changing a diaper.

Wash produce items thoroughly under clean running water and scrub firm produce (like melons) with a produce brush before eating, cutting, or cooking.

Remove damaged or bruised areas on fresh produce and peel fruits and vegetables (if possible) before preparing, cooking, or eating them.

Refrigerate cut, peeled, or cooked fruits and vegetables as soon as possible or within two hours, and store produce items away from raw meats or seafood.