Parasite that clings to lettuce, leafy greens, and more
Cyclosporiasis is an intestinal illness caused by the microscopic parasite Cyclospora cayetanensis. Symptoms of Cyclospora infection include watery diarrhea, weight loss, loss of appetite, cramping, nausea, increased gas, bloating and fatigue.
People can become infected with Cyclospora by consuming food or water contaminated with the parasite. People living or traveling in countries where cyclosporiasis is common may be at increased risk for infection. However, Cyclospora has been clinging to fruits and vegetables that are shipped to the United States, making consumers in the U.S. sick as well. In fact, an outbreak of Cyclospora linked to a salad mix from a Mexican farm in the summer of 2013 caused nearly 650 people from 25 states to become ill.
What you can do:
Just because Cyclospora has been known to cling to fruits and vegetables, doesn’t mean that people should stop eating them. Enjoy the health benefits of eating fruits and vegetables, but just follow safe produce handling recommendations. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends the following:
- Wash hands with soap and warm water before and after handling or preparing fruits and vegetables.
- Wash cutting boards, dishes, utensils, and counter tops with soap and hot water between the preparation of raw meat, poultry, and seafood products and the preparation of fruits and vegetables that will not be cooked.
- Wash all fruits and vegetables thoroughly under running water before eating, cutting, or cooking.
- Fruits and vegetables that are labeled “prewashed” do not need to be washed again at home.
- Scrub firm fruits and vegetables, such as melons and cucumbers, with a clean produce brush.
- Cut away any damaged or bruised areas on fruits and vegetables before preparing and eating.
- Refrigerate cut, peeled, or cooked fruits and vegetables as soon as possible, or within two hours.
- Store fruits and vegetables away from raw meat, poultry, and seafood.
Learn more and share:
- Investigation of an Outbreak of Cyclosporiasis in the United States—The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- Cyclosporiasis Outbreak Investigations — United States, 2015—The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- Cyclosporiasis: Advice to Consumers—The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- Traveler’s Health—The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- Parasites—The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- Are you at risk?—WebMD