The Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) is investigating multiple reports of Cyclospora infection statewide. ADPH has seen more infections with this parasite since April, and there are more than twice as many cases as were reported in Alabama last year.
Cyclosporiasis is a gastrointestinal illness caused by a microscopic parasite. In the U.S., people can get sick with cyclosporiasis by eating fresh produce that was grown outside the U.S. and contaminated with Cyclospora.
Cyclosporiasis can be mild or serious and cause an illness that can result in prolonged gastrointestinal (gut) distress, including watery diarrhea with frequent, sometimes explosive, bowel movements that can last for weeks. In severe cases, Cyclospora infection can require hospitalization. Most people with healthy immune systems will recover without treatment. Some people may require treatment, such as people with poor health or weakened immune systems, including those with HIV/AIDS, cancer, or taking immunosuppressive medications.
Cyclosporiasis is not contagious. There is no evidence it spreads from person to person. If you have had diarrhea, stomach cramps, bloating or other gastrointestinal symptoms lasting longer than several days, talk to your healthcare provider.
To help prevent Cyclospora infection:
- Avoid food or water that might have been contaminated with stool.
- Wash hands with soap and warm water before and after handling or preparing fruits and vegetables.
- Wash all fruits and vegetables thoroughly under running water before eating, cutting, or cooking.