Cyclosporiasis is an intestinal illness caused by the microscopic parasite Cyclospora cayetanensis.
Little is known about how Cyclospora is spread. Cyclospora does not appear to be spread through direct person-to-person contact. Previous outbreaks have implicated contaminated water and imported fresh produce, including raspberries, basil, snow peas, and mesclun lettuce.
Symptoms may appear anywhere from one day to 2 weeks after infection with this parasite. The symptoms include a watery diarrhea, fatigue, loss of appetite, abdominal cramps, and low-grade fever. Untreated, diarrhea has been reported to last up to 70 days. The symptoms frequently come and go in a distinct cycle for several weeks. The symptoms in persons with a poorly functioning immune system may be more severe and last longer.
Treatment & Prevention
See your doctor. Since the routine stool examination used for most parasites cannot detect Cyclospora, a stool specimen should be examined using special stains for this parasite (the acid fast stain). It is important for persons with a poorly functioning immune system to seek medical attention early in the course of their illness.
Thorough washing of fresh produce is recommended, but may not eliminate the risk of transmission since Cyclospora can be difficult to wash off all types of produce. Infection is generally not transmitted directly from person-to-person.
School Exclusion Policy
Children with confirmed cyclosporiasis should be kept out of school or childcare until they are diarrhea and fever-free. Rules for exclusion of sick children from school and childcare are outlined in the Texas Administrative Code, specifically Rule 97.7 for schools and Rule 746.3603 for childcare.
Recent Texas Trends
There were 35 cases of cyclosporiasis reported in Texas from 2001 to 2010. Due to small case counts, there are no data trends to report.