Sunday, July 28, 2013

An Outbreak of Cyclosporiasis in the U.S.

Courtesy of the CDC in Atlanta, the life cycle of Cyclospora

 This week a parasite which causes acute gastroenteritis caused an outbreak which has impacted fifteen states.  This is an unusual infection and is caused by a single celled coccidian parasite.  (Cryptosporidium is a different type of coccidian organism)  In the last twelve years there have only been twelve reported cases and last week just one Texas County reported twenty.  Iowa, Nebraska, Texas and Connecticut have been hit hard.
                   Cyclosporiasis can cause nausea, vomiting, a particularly watery diarrhea, fatigue, fever, excessive gas, weight loss, and cramping,  all within two to ten days of having ingested the offending organism. Some people have muscle aches also. A very few are ill enough to develop cholecystitis, or a siginificant inflammation of the gallbladder secondary to this disease.  A physician can take a sample and test for this microorganism. Ideally, when looking for this organism, several stool samples should be obtained on three different days in order to catch the oocysts.   The organism can be treated with certain antibiotics. Sulfasoxazole/Trimethoprim is most frequently ordered, which is sold as Bactrim or Septra, but other antibiotics can sometimes be used for those who are allergic to sulfa drugs. When I was in Russia, I carried Bactrim in case I developed a coccidial infection, as does occasionally happen there, but I was fine.    Failure to treat this outbreak correctly can result in diarrhea which  can continue for months.  The young, the old, and those with other medical issues, can become dehydrated and require hospitalization.  A number of people during the recent outbreak have required hospitalization. No one, as yet, has died from it. No exact source for this particular outbreak has been detected, although in outbreaks in the 1990s, foreign raspberries were the culprit.
                  Human beings become infected by eating cyclospora oocysts.  These could easily be found on any fruit, berries, produce, or contaminated water.  This infection is more common in tropical nations than it is in the United States.  All of this is making me regret the few delicious huge raspberries I ate on the way home from grocery shopping, without washing them last week.
                 Of course, washing our hands before eating and after using the bathroom can help in preventing transmission of this illness.  Washing our fruits and vegetables before eating is also a wise strategy for prevention.
               Neither iodine or chlorine can kill cyclospora oocysts in water and so contaminated water can indeed be a source of this illness.
                 If you or your family develop this illness, please see your physician for early treatment.

Authoritative information on Cyclospora and the illness Cyclosporiasis:

Although rehydration will not cure cyclospora, it is an essential strategy in it's treatment.  This is a prior post on rehydration solutions, some of which can be made at home:

The safest treatment course includes seeing your physician and taking an antibiotic (and likely probiotics as well)


BBC said...

Any home remedies?

JaneofVirginia said...

The Home treatment for this includes rehydration, which is discussed in an entire chapter in my book, and there may be a blog post here on rehydration. Some patients may recover by flushing out the organism in a month or so. Their stools remain a source of spread of the organism if they are not treated with an antibiotic. People who choose not to treat conventionally do risk dehydration, fluid and electrolyte imbalance and depending upon your general condition, predispositions, and luck, this could cause arrhythmia and death.
There are no specific treatments for cyclospora by the American Indians because they did not have the lab capability to differentiate this from other types of protracted diarrhea. I would imagine that a percentage of people who got it, simply died in the past.
The CDC has been wondering why so many cases this year. Perhaps heavy rains improve the conditions in which this organism breeds, and this is why we are seeing such a widespread outbreak. Thanks for a great question.

JaneofVirginia said...

BBC, I posted the link to my prior post on rehydration, at the bottom of this post.

Kristin said...

It's hard to scrub your lettuce and raspberries enough to get the bugs off them. Take your chances or grow your own, I guess.

JaneofVirginia said...

Because raspberries begin to decompose almost the moment you wash them, they are not washed well, if at all, when they are picked. Even if they are, no one knows about the water they are using. Most people don't wash raspberries when they buy them, and scrubbing would ruin them. I ate a number of large ones from the package on the way home from the Sam's Club recently, and of course, they weren't washed either.
I do the best I can to wash my lettuce but in all honesty, contamination during a rainy year like this one, is possible here too.

BBC said...

I only eat the blackberries that grow in my yard, nothing is put on them.

JaneofVirginia said...

And likely so long as others have not picked them for you, they should be safe. We don't actually know where this one celled organism is found. In heavy rain splashing is a potential, though I would be most comfortable with the things we grow ourselves.

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JaneofVirginia said...

Thank you for your kind words. Please check out the rest of this blog, and my others.

Caroline Lee said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Caroline Lee said...

How Parazapper can Prevent Cyclospora

Cyclospora is a waterborne disease, which caused by genus of apicomplexan parasites. Usually tourists are infected by this disease from using contaminated water. This disease increases every year during the tourism season (January to March) especially in Thailand and Malaysia.

The main Symptoms of this Disease are:
Extent of the disease totally depends of patient age and physical condition. Some symptoms may include fatigue, watery diarrhea, abdominal bleeding etc.

 How can we recognize the disease?
The main identification way of this disease is stool test, where the specimen is microscopically examined and the protozoan is detected.

Way of Prevention:
Since this disease infects a person by the consumption of contaminated water. Drinking fresh purified water is the main way to reduce the risk.

When tourists are going to visit any tropical region where the water supply system is not so good, they should be prepared.

If they use Zapper device, which is called Parazapper, they can eliminate germ and parasite from water within 1 hour.

Many resorts and spas will try to keep a device known as a zapper on hand for customers in need to use but having your own may be better. If there is a long waiting line, you will be happy that you have your own.

A Zapper such as ParaZapper™ CC2 can kill most protozoa, bacteria, and other microbes in water based systems within one hour, but it is not intended for the purpose of purifying drinking water.

Many users find benefit of applying this to their bodies although it is not sold for this purpose. For those who want to know about this device and purchase it then seeing the links below will really be helpful.

See: as that site has over 80 pages of related topics and also sells a book that can be very helpful.

ParaZapper is a trademark of
Para Systems, Inc.
5537 Balboa Ct.
Pinson, AL 35126 USA
All rights reserved. 

JaneofVirginia said...

(I removed the duplicate message from this poster.)

I am unfamiliar with this device or its use, although I will research it

I would urge anyone not to apply such a device to their bodies because of the risk of r on t phenomenon and the potential triggering of other types of arrhythmias in susceptible individuals.

Always research any water systems before spending your money. The Berkey (The British Berkefeld) if you already have one, states in their literature, that they can filter 100% of live cyclospora, and this is what I use.