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Cyclospora

What Is Cyclospora?

Cyclospora cayetanensis is a parasite composed of one cell, too small to be seen without a microscope. This parasite causes an intestinal infection called cyclosporiasis.

What are the symptoms?

Cyclospora usually causes watery diarrhea, with frequent, sometimes explosive, bowel movements. Other symptoms can include loss of appetite, loss of weight, bloating, increased gas, stomach cramps, nausea, vomiting, muscle aches, lowgrade fever, and fatigue. The time between becoming infected and becoming sick is usually about 1 week. If not treated, the illness may last from a few days to a month or longer. Symptoms may seem to go away and then return one or more times (relapse). Some people who are infected with Cyclospora do not have any symptoms.

How is Cyclospora treated?

Trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole (TMP/SMX), sold under the trade names Bactrim*, Septra*, and Cotrim*, is the usual therapy for Cyclospora infection. No highly effective alternative antibiotic regimen has been identified yet for patients who do not respond to the standard treatment or have a sulfa allergy.

Most people who have healthy immune systems will recover without treatment. If not treated, the illness may last for a few days to a month or longer. Symptoms may seem to go away and then return one or more times (relapse). Anti-diarrheal medicine may help reduce diarrhea, but a health care provider should be consulted before such medicine is taken. People who are in poor health or who have weakened immune systems may be at higher risk for severe or prolonged illness.

How do people catch this disease?

Cyclospora is spread by people drinking water or eating food that was contaminated with infected stool. For example, outbreaks of cyclosporiasis have been linked to various types of fresh produce. Cyclospora needs time (days or weeks) after being passed in a bowel movement to become infectious. Therefore, it is unlikely that Cyclospora is passed directly from one person to another. It is not known if animals can be infected and spread infection to people.

What can be done to stop the spread of this disease?

Wash your hands before and after handling food. Wash all fruits and vegetables before eating. Avoid water or food that may be contaminated with stool.

References and Additional Information

www.cdc.gov/parasites/cyclosporiasis/treatment.html