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Cyclospora

Definition

Cyclosporiasis is a parasitic infection of the small intestine caused by the protozoa Cyclospora cayetanensis. It usually causes a watery diarrheal illness that can last anywhere from nine to 43 days if left untreated. Increasing frequency of cyclosporiasis has been reported in the United States and Canada since the mid-1980s.

Cyclosporiasis is reportable to the Iowa Department of Public Health by Iowa Administrative Code 641 IAC 1.

Symptoms

On average, it will take about one week after being infected with C. cayetanensis to start showing signs and symptoms. If left untreated, illness can last for a month or longer and may come back one or more times. Symptoms include, but are not limited to:

  • Watery diarrhea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Bloating
  • Increased gas
  • Stomach cramps
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Tiredness
  • Muscle aches
  • Low-grade fever

Causes

C. cayetanensis is a protozoa that is spread by swallowing water or food that has been contaminated with infected human feces. Direct person-to-person spread is unlikely to occur as the protozoa that are found in the feces of sick people are not infectious until days to weeks after excretion.

Risk Factors

Persons of all ages are at risk for infection. However, people living or traveling in developing countries may be at increased risk. Infection is also more common in the spring and summer than other seasons.

Prevention

  • Avoid water or food that may be contaminated with feces.
  • Infected people should wash their hands thoroughly and often to prevent spread of the infection.
  • Thoroughly wash all fruits and vegetables before eating.

Treatment

Before treatment can occur, C. cayetanensis must be identified by a health care provider. Once identified, antibiotic treatment is started along with fluid and electrolyte replacement if necessary.

Statistics

There were 4 cyclosporiasis cases reported in 2015

For more detailed information and statistics on all notifiable diseases, please see our current annual report located in the reports section of the CADE homepage.

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