7.26.19 – State Investigates Increase in Cyclospora Infections

Baltimore, MD – The Maryland Department of Health (MDH) is investigating an increase in reported Cyclospora infections from multiple jurisdictions across the state. Thirty-seven of the 42 lab-confirmed cases reported between Jan.1 and July 20 have been reported over the last two weeks, part of an overall recent rise in reported cyclosporiasis cases in other parts of the U.S. MDH is working with local, state and federal health officials to investigate the increase. No specific source for these cases has been identified.

Cyclosporiasis is an intestinal illness caused by a microscopic parasite. People can become infected by consuming food or water contaminated with feces or stool that contain the parasite. Illness occurs most often in tropical and subtropical regions.

Symptoms of cyclosporiasis may include the following:

  • Watery diarrhea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Cramping
  • Bloating
  • Increased gas
  • Nausea
  • Fatigue

If a person ill from cyclosporiasis is not treated, symptoms can persist for several weeks to a month or more. Anyone experiencing symptoms of cyclosporiasis should contact their health care provider. They can test for Cyclospora and prescribe the correct treatment.

In the U.S., foodborne outbreaks of cyclosporiasis have been linked to various types of imported fresh produce, such as raspberries, basil, snow peas, mesclun lettuce and cilantro. No commercially frozen or canned produce has been implicated to date.

Consumers and retailers should always follow safe fruit and vegetable handling recommendations:

  • Wash: Wash hands with soap and warm water before and after handling or preparing fruits and vegetables. Wash cutting boards, dishes, utensils and counter tops with soap and hot water between the preparation of raw meat, poultry and seafood products and the preparation of fruits and vegetables that will not be cooked
  • Prepare: Wash all fruits and vegetables thoroughly under running water before eating, cutting or cooking. Scrub firm fruits and vegetables, such as melons and cucumbers, with a clean produce brush. Cut away any damaged or bruised areas on fruits and vegetables before preparing and eating
  • Store: Refrigerate cut, peeled or cooked fruits and vegetables as soon as possible, or within two hours. Store fruits and vegetables away from raw meat, poultry and seafood

For more information about cyclosporiasis cases in the U.S. and in Maryland, visit https://wonder.cdc.gov/nndss/nndss_weekly_tables_menu.asp.