Cyclospora is spread by people ingesting some­thing — such as food or water — that was cont­a­m­i­nated with feces (stool). Some people infected with the micro­scopic para­site that causes cyclospora infec­tion develop no signs or symptoms.

For others, signs and symp­toms — which usually begin within two to 11 days of eating cont­a­m­i­nated food or drinking cont­a­m­i­nated water — may include:

  • Frequent, watery diarrhea
  • Bouts of diar­rhea alter­nating with bouts of constipation
  • Loss of appetite and weight loss
  • Bloating, flat­u­lence and burping
  • Stomach cramps
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Muscle aches
  • Fever
  • Fatigue — this symptom may last long after the active infec­tion has gotten better
  • General feeling of unwell­ness (malaise)

Over the last several years C. cayeta­nensis has been increas­ingly confirmed in surface water and food grown in the US. This may be partially attrib­uted to improve­ments in testing and surveil­lance tools that are able to detect this para­site better than in the past.

Using a testing method devel­oped by FDA scien­tists, C. cayeta­nensis was first found in domes­ti­cally grown produce, cilantro, during a 2018 surveil­lance sampling assign­ment not asso­ci­ated with an outbreak. Not long after, C. cayeta­nensis was again detected during an outbreak linked to a salad mix made with ingre­di­ents that primarily came from domestic growers.

Rising case numbers and the emer­gence of C. cayeta­nensis in domes­ti­cally grown produce prompted the FDA to create the Cyclospora Task Force in 2019. The Task Force comprises multi­dis­ci­pli­nary experts across FDA and CDC with the goal of reducing the public health burden of food­borne illness caused by C. cayeta­nensis in produce.

The Cyclospora Preven­tion, Response and Research Action Plan was devel­oped as a strategic guide to achieving this goal through three priority areas:

  • improving preven­tion
  • enhancing response activities
  • filling knowl­edge gaps

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