June 4, 2023

Cyclospora Outbreak in Boston Sickens More Than 80 People

A cyclospora outbreak in the Boston area has sickened more than 80 people since May 2019, according to news reports. Dr. Larry Maddoff, medical director for the Bureau of Infectious Diseases and Laboratory Sciences at the Massachusetts Department of Public Health told Boston 25 News about this outbreak.

Cyclospora Outbreak in Boston Sickens More Than 80 People

Most of those sickened live in the greater Boston area and eastern Massachusetts. There is no word on which food may have carried the parasite, but most cyclospora outbreaks in the U.S. in the past few years have been linked to fresh produce.

Cyclospora outbreaks have been occurring every summer in the United States in the past years. Last year, a cyclospora outbreak linked to McDonald’s salads sickened more than 500 people. And a cyclospora outbreak linked to Del Monte vegetable trays sold at Kwik Trip stores in the Midwest sickened at least 250 people.┬áPast cyclospora outbreaks have been linked to cilantro, raspberries, basil, peas, and mesclun lettuce.

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There is a current cyclospora outbreak in New York that has sickened at least 11 people. Some of those patients ate meals at three venues around the state. Officials think that contaminated produce is the cause of that outbreak. And a current cyclospora outbreak at Cooper’s Hawk Winery and Restaurant in Jacksonville, Florida has sickened at least 80 people.

Cyclospora is a one-celled parasite that has to mature in order to be infectious, so it is not spread person-to-person. When a person eats food contaminated with the oocyst, it goes through the gut and is excreted in the feces. The oocyst will become infectious a couple of weeks after it is excreted. Tiny amounts of feces then contaminate food or water and remain there for days before the parasite is infectious.

Symptoms of cyclosporiasis include watery and explosive diarrhea that can seem to resolve and then recur without warning, weight loss, stomach cramps and pain, loss of appetite, bloating, increased gas, and fatigue. If you have been experiencing these symptoms, see your doctor. If untreated, this illness can last for months.

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