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Food Safety Focus (86th Issue, September 2013) – Food Incident Highlight

Outbreak of Cyclosporiasis in the United States

Since late June, there have been reports of outbreaks of cyclosporiasis in the United States (US) affecting more than 600 people. Investigations by the US Food and Drug Administration showed that prepackaged salad mix may be a possible vehicle for the infection.

Cyclosporiasis is an intestinal illness caused by the parasite Cyclospora cayetanensis. People can become infected with Cyclospora by consuming food or water contaminated with the parasite. The average incubation period of cyclosporiasis is about one week and common symptoms include watery diarrhoea, abdominal cramps, bloating, nausea, loss of appetite, weight loss and fatigue. Cyclosporiasis is endemic in many tropical and subtropical regions, including Africa, South and Central Americas, Asia, and the Middle East. Individual travelling in these areas may be at increased risk for infection.

Fresh produce has been associated with a number of cyclosporiasis outbreaks worldwide. Travellers should remain vigilant and take precautionary measures, for example, ensuring fresh produce is thoroughly washed before consumption, to prevent food-borne or water-borne illnesses when abroad. Returning travellers with symptoms of cyclosporiasis should seek immediate medical attention.