The ABCs of CyclosporaBlog
By Jeff Lucas and Heather Hart
Cyclospora Contamination and Infection Route
Cyclospora Key Facts
- Cyclospora cayetanensis is a single-celled protozoan parasite.
- Cyclosporiasis is the 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 to be seasonal, particularly during the rainy season, and is associated especially with tropical growing areas.
—> Matrices of interest: agricultural water, fresh produce, fresh berries
—> Main testing steps: oocyst concentration, DNA isolation, PCR detection
- 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 levels of contamination in food and water.
- FDA focus is on prevention:
—> Common chemical treatments used on farms and fresh produce to control bacterial pathogens are not effective 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.”
If you are interested in learning more about Cyclospora and Mérieux NutriSciences parasite testing capabilities, contact our Silliker Food Science Center.