In 2018, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported multiple outbreaks of cyclosporiasis, an intestinal illness caused by infection with the parasite Cyclospora cayetanensis acquired through fecal-oral transmission of contaminated food or water, according to a report published in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.
A higher number of cases are typically reported in the United States during the spring and summer, and for the past 2 decades, outbreaks have been identified and investigated nearly every year. C cayetanesis outbreaks have previously been associated with various types of imported fresh produce, including basil, cilantro, and raspberries. The CDC highlighted the current outbreak season because of the large number of cases reported and multiple outbreaks associated with different fresh produce items.
As of October 1, 2018, there were 2299 laboratory-confirmed cyclosporiasis cases reported in 33 states, affecting individuals who did not have a history of international travel during the 14 days preceding the onset of illness. Approximately one-third of these cases were associated with either the contamination of pre-packaged vegetable trays at a convenience store chain or the fast food chain outbreak—both of which occurred in the Midwest region of the US. While many of the cases could not be directly linked to an outbreak, 2 multi-state outbreaks resulted in 761 laboratory-confirmed illnesses.
The 2299 cases occurred between May 1, 2018 and August 30. 2018; this number was markedly higher than the number reported during the same time period in 2016 (174) and 2017 (623). “This increase might be due, in part, to changes in diagnostic testing practices, including increased use of gastrointestinal molecular testing panels,” said the CDC.
While at least 160 patients have been hospitalized, no deaths have been reported, and the CDC recommended that consumers continue to “enjoy fresh produce as part of a well-balanced diet,” but advised washing fruits and vegetables with clean running water.