Are Cyclospora Outbreaks Over? Friday, August 2, 2013

If you’ve read the headlines this week, you may know that there was an outbreak of Cyclospora in 17 states across the country.

We spoke with Children’s National Health System's infectious disease specialist David Hyun, MD, to find out more on Cyclospora and if anyone has been affected in the Washington, DC, area.

“Cyclospora is a microscopic parasite that causes and intestinal illness called Cylcosporiasis. People who ingest Cyclospora often will experience gastrointestinal discomfort, diarrhea, bloating, vomiting, weight-loss, or nausea,” Dr. Hyun said. “Most patients will resolve their symptoms even without treatment, but there is a risk of relapse down the line, so it is important to see a physician if you experience these symptoms. Additionally, Cyclospora has not been known to be life-threatening.”

A person becomes infected with Cyclospora when they eat or drink food contaminated with the parasite. It is more common in developing countries where sanitation rules may be more relaxed than the United States.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there have been 397 cases and no deaths from the outbreak. Dr. Hyun said no instances have been found in the District either.

“I asked our laboratory director if he had heard of any positive samples in our lab and he said no. Based on reporting from CDC, we’re beyond the peak period of the outbreak. The majority of cases were late June and early July,” Dr. Hyun said.

While contracting Cyclosporiasis in the United States is rare, a good way to prevent it is to thoroughly wash hands before handling food, avoid food or water that has been contaminated with the parasite, and thoroughly was fruit and vegetables before consuming.

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