The Public Health Agency of Canada is announcing that there are 83 people in that country sick with the symptoms of Cyclospora. There is an outbreak in the U.S. that has sickened almost 400 people. Investigators do not know if the two outbreaks are related.
In Canada, the case outbreak by province is: British Columbia (3), Alberta (1), Ontario (74), and Quebec (5). Two people have been hospitalized; no deaths are reported. In past outbreaks, imported fresh produce has been linked to the illnesses. Most of these cases occurred in late June and early July. The last reported illness began on July 18, 2015.
Part of the outbreak in the United States has been linked to cilantro imported from Puebla, Mexico. Previous Cyclospora outbreaks have been linked to pre-packaged salad mix, basil., cilantro, berries, mesclun lettuce, and snow peas.
The symptoms of cyclosporiasis include explosive and watery diarrhea, loss of appetite, weight loss, stomach cramps, abdominal bloating, nausea, fatigue, and increased gas. If left untreated, this illness can last for months. If you have experienced these symptoms, see your doctor.
To help protect yourself from this illness, always wash fresh fruits and vegetables before eating them. But Cyclospora can be difficult to wash off produce. Always use warm soapy water to clean utensils and work surfaces. Refrigerate or freeze perishable food within two hours of cooking. Reheat leftovers until they reach a temperature of 165°F as measured by a food thermometer.
The oocyst that causes this illness is not passed from person to person. It must mature in feces before it enters the infective stage. Those who are most seriously affected by this parasite are younger children, the elderly, those with compromised immune systems, and those who are chronically ill.