Cyclosporiasis is not a reportable disease in Oklahoma; however, the Oklahoma State Department of Health investigates outbreaks of Cyclosporiasis to control the spread of this disease. Cyclosporiasis is a diarrheal illness caused by a single-celled parasite called Cyclospora cayetanensis. Cyclospora infects the small intestine and typically causes illness characterized by watery diarrhea. Other symptoms can include loss of appetite, weight loss, bloating, stomach cramps, nausea, vomiting, muscle aches, low-grade fever, and fatigue. Symptoms may last from several days to several weeks, and weight loss can be significant (exceeding 20 pounds in some cases). Some infected persons may not have any symptoms.
Infection with Cyclospora occurs by ingesting contaminated food or water. Cyclospora needs time to undergo developmental changes after being passed in a bowel movement to become infectious. Therefore the parasite is not transmitted directly from person to person.
Persons of all ages are at risk of infection. Cyclosporiasis occurs more often among persons living or traveling in developing countries; however, infections occur worldwide including the United States. Cyclosporiasis has been associated with diarrhea in travelers to Asia, the Caribbean, Mexico and Peru.
How to prevent cyclosporiasis:
- Clean your hands often. Use soap and water if hands are visibly soiled, otherwise it’s okay to use an alcohol based hand gel. Important times to clean your hands are: After using the bathroom; before preparing or eating food; after changing a diaper, after blowing your nose, sneezing, or coughing; after caring for a sick person; and after touching an animal.
- Select food with care, particularly in areas where hygiene and sanitation are poor. All raw foods are subject to contamination; therefore avoid salads, uncooked vegetables, and unpasteurized milk and milk products such as cheese. Eat only food that has been cooked and is still hot, or fruit that has been washed in clean water and then peeled personally.
- Avoid drinking untreated water, particularly in areas where hygiene and sanitation are poor. Drink bottled water to avoid dehydration.
Cyclosporiasis Fact Sheets and Information:
Cyclosporiasis Fact Sheet (37k.pdf)