Cyclospora Infection

  • Medical Author:
    Mary D. Nettleman, MD, MS, MACP

    Mary D. Nettleman, MD, MS, MACP is the Chair of the Department of Medicine at Michigan State University. She is a graduate of Vanderbilt Medical School, and completed her residency in Internal Medicine and a fellowship in Infectious Diseases at Indiana University.

  • Medical Author: Joseph Rees, MD
  • Medical Editor: Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD
    Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD

    Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD

    Dr. Charles "Pat" Davis, MD, PhD, is a board certified Emergency Medicine doctor who currently practices as a consultant and staff member for hospitals. He has a PhD in Microbiology (UT at Austin), and the MD (Univ. Texas Medical Branch, Galveston). He is a Clinical Professor (retired) in the Division of Emergency Medicine, UT Health Science Center at San Antonio, and has been the Chief of Emergency Medicine at UT Medical Branch and at UTHSCSA with over 250 publications.

Bacterial Infections 101 Pictures Slideshow

What causes Cyclospora infection?

Cyclospora cayetanensis is a parasite which passes between the outside environment and humans during its life cycle. It exists for long times in nature in a highly stable form called an oocyst. The oocyst for can resist extreme temperatures and is not killed by usual concentrations of formalin or chlorine. When temperatures warm, the oocyst matures in a process called sporulation, producing forms known as sporozoites. When the sporozoites are inadvertently ingested by a human, they begin to reproduce, eventually forming new oocysts that are excreted in feces, starting the cycle all over again.

What are the risk factors for a Cyclospora infection?

Cyclospora causes disease throughout the world, but it is much more common in tropical and subtropical climates. Outbreaks that occur in more temperate zones, such as in the United States, are often -- but not exclusively -- associated with food imported from warmer climates. The produce at risk is that which is exposed to ground contaminated with human feces or washed with contaminated water. Thus, lettuce, raspberries, basil, and snow peas have all been implicated in past outbreaks. In 2013, an outbreak occurred involving many states, including Texas, Iowa, and Nebraska. This outbreak affected hundreds of people and was at least partially caused by bagged lettuce grown in Mexico.

Although travel to a tropical or subtropical country is a risk factor for Cyclospora infection, the risk is relatively low. The organism is not a major cause of travelers' diarrhea.

What are the symptoms of Cyclospora infection?

The most common complaint for people with illness due to Cyclospora is diarrhea, which can last four weeks or more. The diarrhea is typically watery in nature and is often accompanied by cramping and fatigue. The infected person generally has from five to 15 bowel movements per day. Other common problems are fevers, abdominal or belly pain, heartburn, nausea, increased gas, decreased appetite, and weight loss. Symptoms are more severe in people with compromised immune systems, such as patients with the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS).

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 5/4/2015

Subscribe to MedicineNet's Newsletters

Get the latest health and medical information delivered direct to your inbox!

By clicking Submit, I agree to the MedicineNet's Terms & Conditions & Privacy Policy and understand that I may opt out of MedicineNet's subscriptions at any time.

  • Cyclospora Infection - Symptoms

    What symptoms did you experience with your Cyclospora infection?

  • Cyclospora Infection - Causes

    How did you contract your Cyclospora infection?

  • Cyclospora Infection - Treatment

    Please describe the treatment of your Cyclospora infection.

  • Cyclospora Infection - Symptoms

    What were the symptoms of your Cyclospora?


Health Solutions From Our Sponsors