Outbreaks of infections from the cyclospora parasite has been declared over by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, with more than 2,000 patients logged.
The outbreaks, which were first reported by the CDC on May 25, have been ongoing since April this year. As of Oct. 24 the agency reported 2,272 laboratory confirmed patients from 40 states.
“These individuals had not traveled outside of the United States during the 14 days before they got sick. This is an increase of 315 cases since the last update on Aug. 31, 2023,” according to the CDC’s report.
Sick people ranged in age from 2 to 96 years, with a median age of 51. The median illness onset date was June 24, 2023 (range: April 1 to August 31). Of 2,242 people with information available, 186 have been hospitalized. Zero deaths have been reported.
Local, state, and federal public health authorities investigated multiple potential clusters of cases during 2023. The total case count of 2,272 included the clusters that were under
“The true number of people sick with cyclosporiasis was likely higher than the number reported. This is because some people recover without medical care and are not tested for Cyclospora,” according to the CDC.
Anyone who has developed symptoms of Cyclospora infection, and has reason to believe they have been exposed to the parasite, should seek medical attention. Specific tests are required and antibiotics are used to fight the parasite.
Cyclospora infection can cause severe abdominal pain, watery diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, body aches, and fatigue. Symptoms can develop between two and 14 days after exposure. Though symptoms can be severe enough to send people to the hospital, it’s rare for people to die from Cyclospora infections.
Cyclospora is a type of protozoa, which is a microscopic, single-celled organism. It is transmitted when people somehow ingest contaminated feces, typically through contaminated food or water. It can be spread only through human waste, unlike E. coli and salmonella, which can also be spread from animal fecal matter.
Previous U.S. outbreaks of cyclosporiasis have been linked to various types of fresh produce, including basil, cilantro, mesclun lettuce, raspberries, and snow peas.
Food safety experts say there’s no evidence that washing the produce will remove the parasite.
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