Cyclosporiasis is an infection of the intestine caused by a parasite called Cyclospora (SIGH-clo-SPORE-uh). The first known human cases of cyclosporiasis were reported in 1979. Cyclosporiasis is not spread directly from person-to-person. Infected people pass Cyclospora in their feces (stool), but this form of the parasite cannot make people sick. The parasite needs time (days to weeks) in the environment to change into a form that can make people sick. This form of the parasite then can infect someone by entering the body through the mouth, typically by eating or drinking something that is contaminated with Cyclospora.
Outbreaks of cyclosporiasis in the United States have been linked to imported fresh produce, such as raspberries, basil, lettuce, and snow peas. The produce involved in each outbreak was probably contaminated in the country where it was grown. Nationally, there has been an increase in Cyclosporiasis in 2019, with state health departments throughout the country investigating numerous outbreaks. The Virginia Department of Health is currently investigating an increase in intestinal illness associated with Cyclopora. A common source for the increased illnesses is currently being investigated. Local health districts are evaluating potential exposures by interviewing ill persons and collecting samples for testing at its public health laboratory. Anyone experiencing symptoms of Cyclosporiasis should visit their healthcare provider. They can test for Cyclospora and prescribe the correct treatment. Physicians should report cases to the health department as indicated in Virginia’s Reportable Disease List.
For more information about cyclosporiasis, and reporting and surveillance of Cyclosporiasis Cases in Virginia, please visit: https://www.vdh.virginia.gov/surveillance-and-investigation/cyclosporiasis/.