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Vincent Iannelli, M.D.

CDC Cyclosporiasis Update

By July 24, 2013

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The CDC issued an update on the recent, ongoing multistate outbreak of cyclosporiasis.

From an initial report of 2 cases in Iowa, there are now 269 cases in 8 states and at least 10 people have required hospitalization.

Cyclospora infections are caused by a microscopic parasite that can contaminate food and water. In the past, most infections in the United States are linked to international travel or have been caused by eating imported fresh produce, including basil, mesclun lettuce, raspberries, and snow peas.

Cyclosporiasis is not new. We normally see about 120 to 179 cases of cyclosporiasis each year. What is new is that the CDC is reporting over 250 cases of Cyclospora infections, with additional cases under investigation. So far, infections have been reported from:

  • Iowa
  • Nebraska
  • Texas
  • Wisconsin
  • Georgia
  • Connecticut
  • Illinois
  • Kansas

And the vast majority of those cases are in Iowa (127 cases), Nebraska (68 cases), Texas (65 cases).

The last cyclosporiasis outbreak that was this large occurred in 2005. It was thought to be linked to fresh basil that was imported from Peru and ultimately got people sick in Alabama, California, Kentucky, and Michigan. Outbreaks in Florida and Connecticut that were also linked to fresh basil that year helped to get the cyclosporiasis case count to 543, which is a record high since 1999, when it became a nationally notifiable disease.

While experts don't know what is causing this outbreak, to help reduce your child's risk of getting cyclosporiasis and other infections, it is important that you encourage them to:

  • Wash fruits and vegetables thoroughly before eating them.
  • Encourage your kids to not drink water from swimming pools, streams, or lakes, etc.
  • Teach your kids to wash their hands properly.

And see your pediatrician if your child has any symptoms of cyclosporiasis, which can include frequent, explosive, watery diarrhea, loss of appetite, stomach cramps, nausea, fatigue, and vomiting.

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