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Travel health information for people travelling abroad from the UK

Cyclospora Risk for Travellers to Mexico

02 Aug 2016

In August 2016, cases of infection with the diarrhoea causing parasite Cyclospora, have continued to be reported by UK holidaymakers returning from Mexico. Clusters of cases started to be reported during June and July from this popular destination.

The majority of cases have stayed in all-inclusive resorts in the Riviera Maya area on the coast of Quintana Roo state, south of Cancun. The source of infection is thought likely to be a foodstuff supplied to hotels throughout the area. Investigation into this outbreak  is ongoing.

Awareness of the outbreak should be maintained and travellers to Mexico are strongly advised to maintain a high standard of food, water and personal hygiene, even if staying in high-end resorts.

Infection can cause frequent, watery diarrhoea, abdominal cramping, bloating, nausea, flatulence, low-grade fever, loss of appetite and weight. Individuals with underlying immune deficiency can be at risk of more severe infection.

Advice for Travellers

Infection is transmitted through consumption of food or water that is contaminated with human faeces containing the parasite. Foods often implicated in outbreaks include soft fruits like raspberries and salad products such as coriander, basil and lettuce. Key points:

  • Iodine and chlorine do not kill Cyclospora. Drinking water must be bottled, boiled, or filtered with a special filter designed for purifying drinking water.
  • Uncooked berries, unpeeled fruit and salad leaves are best avoided since these are difficult to clean.
  • Food should be freshly prepared, thoroughly cooked and eaten hot whenever possible
  • Further food and water advice
  • Preventing and treating travellers' diarrhoea

On return from Mexico, if you have any symptoms such as those described above you should seek medical attention and tell your GP about your travel history. Stool samples can be sent to diagnose, and antibiotics given to treat, the infection.