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Cyclospora Risk for Travellers to Mexico

10 Jun 2019

Over the last 4 years there have been seasonal outbreaks of cyclospora infection in UK travellers returning from Mexico. Annual case numbers in the UK have varied (2015:79,2016:359,2017:82,2018:61) . The majority of cases stayed in the Riviera Maya and Cancun regions of Mexico. The source of infection was likely to be contaminated food items supplied to hotels throughout the area

Cyclospora cayetanensis is a protozoan parasite that can infect humans and other primates. Infection can cause frequent, watery diarrhoea, abdominal cramping, bloating, nausea, flatulence, low-grade fever, loss of appetite and weight. HIV positive individuals and those with other immune deficiencies can be at risk of more severe infection.

All travellers to Mexico are strongly advised to maintain a high standard of food, water and personal hygeine even if staying in luxury resorts.

Advice for Travellers

An advice sheet for travellers can be accessed via the following link:

Infection is transmitted through consumption of contaminated food or water, direct person to person spread does not occur. Foods often implicated in outbreaks include soft fruits like raspberries and salad products such as coriander, basil and lettuce.

Key points:

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

On return from Mexico, if travellers have any symptoms such as those described above they should seek medical attention and inform their GP of their travel history.