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The ABC’s of Cyclospora

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Cyclospora Key Facts

  • Cyclospora cayetanensis is a single-celled protozoan parasite.
  • Cyclosporiasis is a disease caused by Cyclospora cayetanensis.
    • Infection pathway: fecal to oral via consumption of contaminated fresh produce/water
    • Symptoms: watery diarrhea, loss of appetite, weight loss, cramps, bloating, nausea, and tiredness. More severe cases: flu-like symptoms (headache, vomiting, fever)
    • Minimum infective dose, oocyst sporulation rate, and survival under different environmental conditions are unknown.
    • Duration: symptoms could last days or months; if untreated, symptoms could relapse
  • Implicated products: basil, raspberries, lettuce, and other fresh produce, particularly if imported from tropical growing regions
  • Agricultural water is believed to play a role in contamination: irrigation, produce processing.
  • It appears seasonal, particularly during the rainy season, and is associated especially with tropical growing areas.
  • Testing:
    • Matrices of interest: agricultural water, fresh produce, fresh berries
    • Main testing steps: oocyst concentration, DNA isolation, PCR detection

Cyclospora Contamination and Infection Route

Blog-Cyclospora-Graphic 1


Cyclospora Challenges

  • Currently, there are no animal models or in vitro cultivation methods to determine the infectious potential of Cyclospora cayetanensis.
  • It is difficult to isolate and detect due to low contamination levels in food and water.
  • FDA focus is on prevention:
    • Common chemical treatments used on farms and fresh produce to control bacterial pathogens are ineffective against Cyclospora.
    • The current form of control is via worker training on proper hygiene and sanitation.
    • Cyclospora is an emerging food safety concern, and there is a need for research to “fill the knowledge gaps.”

Blog-Cyclospora-Graphic 2What’s Next?

If you want to learn more about Cyclospora and Mérieux NutriSciences (MXNS) parasite testing capabilities, contact our Silliker Food Science Center.



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