Cyclosporiasis is a diarrheal disease caused by the parasite Cyclospora cayetanensis. Infection is often spread by consuming contaminated food and drinks and commonly imported raw fruit and vegetables such as raspberries, blackberries, lettuce, snow peas, and salad herbs.

If you or a loved one contracted Cyclospora, speak with an experienced Cyclospora lawyer to explore your legal right to compensation. 

Where Cyclospora is Commonly Found?

Currently, only one Cyclospora species is known to be associated with syndromes of acute and chronic diarrhea in humans. Cyclospora infections have largely surfaced in people who traveled to countries in tropical and subtropical regions where cyclosporiasis commonly occurs, including:

  • South America
  • Central America
  • South Asia
  • South East Asia
  • Middle East
  • Africa
  • Mexico

To reduce the risk of infection, travelers can take precautions. For example, in areas with inadequate hygiene and sanitation, travelers should avoid salads, uncooked vegetables, raw and unpeeled fruits, and unpasteurized fruit juices. It is also important to note that treating water or food by routine sanitizing methods or chemical disinfection is unlikely to kill Cyclospora oocysts.

Cyclosporiasis Outbreak Data in the U.S.

Cyclosporiasis cases are reported year-round in the U.S. but are most common in the spring and summer months. Here is data for domestically acquired cases between May and August. 

  • In 2021, 34 states and New York City reported 864 laboratory-confirmed cases of Cyclosporiasis in people who had no international travel history as of August 25. 
    • At least 59 people have been hospitalized. 
  • In 2020, 35 jurisdictions reported 1,241 lab-confirmed cases of Cyclosporiasis in people who had not traveled internationally. A significant drop in cases from years prior. 
    • At least 90 people were hospitalized. 
  • Multiple clusters of cases were associated with different restaurants or events.
  • In 2019, there were 2,408 lab-confirmed cases of Cyclosporiasis in people who had not traveled internationally. Thirty-seven states, the District of Columbia, and New York City reported infections to the CDC. The number of cases reported between May and August in 2019 was higher than the number of cases reported during the same time period in 2018 and 2017. However, the increase could, at least in part, have been due to changes in diagnostic testing. 
    • At least 144 people were hospitalized. 
    • Clusters of cases were linked to different restaurants or events. 
    • 10% of patients were infected by basil imported from Mexico. 
  • In 2018, 33 states reported 2,299 lab-confirmed cases of Cyclosporiasis in people who had not traveled internationally. 
    • A third of these illnesses were attributed to known outbreaks. (Del Monte pre-packaged vegetable trays and McDonald’s salad mix)
    • Clusters of cases were linked to other fresh produce, including basil and cilantro. 
    • Many of the cases could not be directly linked to an outbreak. 
  • In 2017, there were at least 597 lab-confirmed cases in people who did not travel internationally, who became ill on or after May 1. that time period. This is out of the total 1,065 total lab-confirmed cases for 2017. The source was not identified. 
  • In 2016, at least 134 of the total 384 lab-confirmed cases occurred on or after May 1 in 25 states. 

This table summarizes U.S. foodborne outbreaks of Cyclosporiasis between 2000 to 2020, the approximate number of cases, as well as the probable source if it was identified. 

Year(s)

Jurisdiction(s)

No. of Cases

Source

2020 GA, IL, IA, KS, MA, MI, MN, MO, NE, ND, OH, PA, SD, WI 701 Fresh Express brand and private label brand bagged salad products
2019 Florida, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, & Wisconsin 241 Basil from Mexico
2018 CT, FL, IA, IL, IN, KY, MI, MN, MO, NE,NY, OH, SD, TN, VA, & WI 511 McDonald’s Fresh Express Salad Mix
2018 Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, & Michigan 250 Pre-packaged Del Monte vegetable trays 
2017 Florida 3
2017 Connecticut  3
2017 Tennessee  4
2017 Michigan 29
2017 Texas  38 Scallions (green onions)
2017 Florida 6 Berries (suspected)
2016 Texas 6 Carrots or green cabbage (suspected)
2015 Georgia, Texas, & Wisconsin 90 Cilantro from Mexico
2014 South Carolina 13
2014 Texas 26 Cilantro from Mexico
2014 Michigan 14
2013 Wisconsin 8 Berry salad (suspected)
2013 Texas 38 Cilantro from Mexico
2013 Iowa, Nebraska, & neighboring states 162 Bagged salad mix from Mexico
2012 Texas 16
2011 Georgia 88
2009 District of Columbia 34
2008 California 45 Raspberries and/or blackberries (likely)
2008 Wisconsin 4 Sugar snap peas (likely)
2006 Georgia 3
2006 New York 20
2006 Minnesota 14
2005 Connecticut  30 Basil (suspected)
2005 Massachusetts (May) 16
2005 Massachusetts (April) 58
2005 South Carolina  6
2005 Florida 582 Basil from Peru
2004 Pennsylvania  96 Snow peas from Guatemala 
2004 Tennessee  12
2004 Illinois 57 Basil (likely)
2004 Texas 38
2002 New York 14
2002 Massachusetts  8
2001-02 Vermont 22 Raspberries (likely)
2001 New York City 3
2001 Florida 39
2000 Pennsylvania  54 Raspberries 
2000 Georgia 19 Raspberries and/or blackberries (suspected)

New Methods for Detecting Cyclospora

In 2018, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) began using a new method to detect Cyclospora in food. This new testing method was a critical tool used to identify produce that was positive for Cyclospora during 2018 outbreak investigations. It was the first time the FDA was able to confirm the presence of Cyclospora in food since the early 2000s. This significant step forward can lead to better detection and prevention efforts.

How to Report Cyclospora Infections

Cyclosporiasis is a nationally notifiable disease, which means it is considered to be of great public health importance and state health departments must report confirmed and probable cases to the CDC. As a result, it is your health care provider’s responsibility to report cases of Cyclosporiasis to your state’s department of health, not yours. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t notify your state health agency of your illness. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) receives timely and frequent reports of cases from states and jurisdictions where the disease is reportable. Currently, 43 states, the District of Columbia, and New York City have passed legislation making Cyclosporiasis a reportable disease. Timely reporting of this illness is critical to preventing and controlling a potential outbreak and allows researchers to identify disease trends. 

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