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Cyclospora Infection (Cyclosporiasis) (cont.)

Cyclospora Infection Causes and Risk Factors

Cyclospora infection (cyclosporiasis) is caused by a parasite that infects human small intestinal tract cells. The parasite is named Cyclospora cayetanensis; it's a single-cell parasite that can only be viewed with a microscope. The parasite was recently discovered in 1977 and only named in 1994. The parasite has a complicated life cycle that requires development in human intestinal cells. Sporulated oocysts are the infective stage of the parasite. Sporozoites infect small intestinal cells after oocysts spore breaks open, a process termed excystation that is followed by several developmental steps). After development, non-sporulated oocysts passed out of the body in feces must mature (sporulate) in the environment before they can infect another human.

Anyone at any age is at risk of getting cyclosporiasis if they ingest water or foods contaminated with sporulated oocysts. Most individuals infected live in tropical or subtropical regions. Most of the U.S. outbreaks have been relatively small and linked to imported fresh produce (raspberries, snow peas, basil, and lettuce) but not to frozen or canned produce. A large outbreak in 2013 was linked to imported salad mix and cilantro. This large outbreak involved 25 states, primarily Iowa, Nebraska, and Texas.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 4/24/2015

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