What is Cyclospora?
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.
Cyclosporiasis is an intestinal illness caused by the microscopic parasite Cyclospora cayetanensis. People can become infected with Cyclospora by consuming food or water contaminated with the parasite. People living or traveling in countries where cyclosporiasis is endemic may be at increased risk for infection.
How is Cyclospora spread?
Cyclospora is spread by people ingesting something—such as food or water—that was contaminated with feces (stool). Cyclospora needs time (typically, at least 1–2 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.
Who is at risk for Cyclospora infection?
People living or traveling in tropical or subtropical regions of the world may be at increased risk for infection because cyclosporiasis is found in some countries in these zones. In the United States, foodborne outbreaks of cyclosporiasis have been linked to various types of imported fresh produce. People can get infected with Cyclospora more than once.
What are the symptoms of Cyclospora infection?
The time between becoming infected and becoming sick is usually about 1 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.
- Fecal contamination of food and water
- Associated with water- and food-borne outbreaks
- Common cause of traveller’s diarrhea
- May be found on imported fresh produce from tropical regions
- Symptoms include prolonged watery diarrhea, abdominal cramping, loss of appetite, weight loss, nausea, and vomiting
- May cause alternating diarrhea and constipation
- Can cause bloating, flatulence, and burping
- Flu-like symptoms such as fatigue, headaches, and low fever may be present in some individuals
- Infection is usually self-limiting, with symptoms usually lasting about seven days, but can last weeks or months in immunosuppressed patients
Therapeutic Options and Considerations:
- In cases lasting more than seven days, treatment with an antibiotic combination of trimethoprim and sulfamethoxazole may be necessary
- Consider probiotics, broad-spectrum anti-parasitic herbal formula, and the 5R Protocol (See 5R Protocol blog entry)
- Look for and address sources of reinfection
- People who have diarrhea should also rest and drink plenty of fluids.
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