Cyclosporiasis is an infection causing diarrhoea that is caught from contaminated raw fruit and vegetables or water.
Recommendations for Travellers
Following safe food and water precautions during travel reduces your risk of infection. In particular:
- drink only boiled or bottled water
- be aware that cyclospora is not killed by most water purification tablets, portable filtration systems or disinfectants (including standard water chlorination)
- avoid eating unpeeled raw fruit and vegetables, especially berries, herbs and salad leaves
- be aware that washing food in drinking water is unlikely to remove all of the germs from fruit and vegetables
- Cyclospora Advice for Travellers contains useful advice on the infection
Overview of the Disease
Cyclosporiasis is caused by microscopic germs called Cyclospora cayetanensis.
People with the infection pass the germs in their poo.
You become infected if you eat or drink food or water that has been contaminated by poo containing these germs.
This infection can occur worldwide but is particularly common in Central and South America and Asia. In the UK cases have been linked with travel to Mexico.
- Raw fruit and vegetables, such as raspberries, blackberries, lettuce, mange tout and salad herbs, which are grown in countries where the germ is common are often the cause of infection.
Symptoms usually start between 1 to 7 days after eating or drinking the contaminated food or water.
Symptoms can last for days to weeks. Sometimes the symptoms get better but then come back.
The symptoms include:
- watery diarrhoea
- loss of appetite
- loss of weight
- tummy cramps and wind
- occasionally feeling sick and a low temperature can occur
Infection can be more serious in those who have a weakened immune system.
Most infections eventually get better without any treatment, even if the symptoms keep coming back.
- The infection can be diagnosed from a poo sample of diarrhoea.
- Antibiotics can be used to treat the infection.