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Food Poisoning Health Center

Cyclospora Infections: Are You at Risk?

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Other outbreaks have been associated with fresh basil, lettuce, and snow peas.

Does cooking or freezing eliminate the risk?

Yes. The CDC says commercially canned and frozen fruits and vegetables have never been implicated in an outbreak.

What about washing fruits or vegetables?

The FDA recommends washing all fresh fruits and vegetables, including fresh herbs and fruit that you plan to peel. As an extra step, the FDA also recommends drying all kinds of fresh produce with a paper towel to wipe away any residue that might still be clinging after a rinse.

That's an especially good move in the case of cyclospora oocysts. "Cyclospora can be really sticky and hard to wash off fruits and vegetables," Garvey says.

The CDC says bleach and other chemicals like iodine don't seem to kill cyclospora, so you can forget soaps and detergents.

How do you know if you're infected?

The telltale symptom of the infection is watery diarrhea that comes and goes. "About half of people have low-grade fevers. Some people feel like they sort of have a flu-like illness. There's a lot of gas, usually, too. It can last for several weeks," Shane says.

Among the cases in Iowa, Garvey says , the main symptoms are  watery diarrhea for extended periods of time, weight loss, bloating, fatigue, and some vomiting. “Lots of people have lost their appetites and have experienced significant weight loss. These are all pretty consistent with classic symptoms."

People can be hospitalized for dehydration associated with prolonged diarrhea.

If you have diarrhea for several days or diarrhea that comes and goes, see your doctor. Also watch out for signs of dehydration, such as dry mouth and tongue, not urinating much, and dizziness. If you’re not able to keep water or other liquids down, see your doctor.

How is it diagnosed?

Diagnosis is difficult because you can have the infection for 2 to 14 days before you start to have symptoms. "You’re asking people to think about things they've eaten more than a week ago.  That's really hard to remember, so that's why I think it's been really challenging for the CDC and FDA to figure out what the vehicle is," Shane says.

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