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Thursday, October 1, 2020

Cyclosporiasis (Cyclospora Infections): Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

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Cyclosporiasis, also known as cyclospora infection, is a parasitic infection of the intestine that is caused by a particular microbe known as Cyclospora cayetanensis. Most people get infected by this single-cell microbe through the ingestion of it through food or water.

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In many cases of infection, the patient is often seen to have mistakenly ingested infected fresh produce(mostly unwashed fruits or improperly boiled meat), and this has resulted in the development of cyclosporiasis.

Cyclospora infection often results in the development of diarrhea. Sometimes, doctors find it difficult to diagnose these infections, and this is because so many other parasites often cause diarrhea.

As such, doctors will often look for other common causes of diarrhea before eventually narrowing it down to Cyclospora cayetanensis.

Causes of Cyclosporiasis

Cyclospora infection(cyclosporiasis) is caused by the ingestion of a one-celled parasite known as Cyclospora cayetanensis. This disease can easily be transmitted to you if you consume any food or water that has already been infected with this parasite.

A person who has already been infected with cyclospora pass out the parasite in his or her stool. However, before the parasite is passed out, the harm has ready been done. Unlike other foodborne parasites, cyclosporiasis doesn’t begin until the parasite cyclospora cayetanensis is passed out from the stool.

Hence, people who have this infection are not necessarily carriers of the parasite. This means that it is highly unlikely for you to contact this disease from a restaurant worker who didn’t wash his/her hands adequately after using the loo.

In previous times (before 1990), people who had cyclospora infections were people who were either returning after their travel to a developing country or those who had HIV or any other condition that may have resulted in them having a weakened immune system.

However, in recent times, certain fruit and produces such as raspberries, fresh basil, and lettuce have been seen to be the cause of the cyclospora infection in Canada and the United States.

Symptoms of Cyclosporiasis

For some people, when they develop cyclosporiasis, they usually show no symptoms. This is most especially for people who were infected with the microscopic form of this parasite.

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However, for other people they will experience certain signs which start to show up usually within 2-11 days after they have ingested the contaminated food or water.

If you have cyclosporiasis, you may experience one or more of the following symptoms. They include:

  • Watery and frequent diarrhea
  • Episodes of diarrhea which is often alternated with bouts of constipation
  • Weight loss and, in certain cases, lack of appetite
  • Burping, flatulence as well as bloating
  • Stomach cramps that usually start out mild but may become intense as it progresses.
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Severe muscle pains
  • Increase in body temperature (fever)
  • Fatigue and intense tiredness; Often, this symptom can last long even after the infection has been treated.
  • Malaise: This is often characterized by the general feeling of unwellness.

In some cases, especially for those who have a healthy immune system, this condition may resolve themselves without having to use drugs.

However, having a condition that reduces or compromises your immune system can cause this infection to keep relapsing and, as such, cause it to persist for months.

Risk factors

In the past, people who had traveled to underdeveloped or developing countries were mostly seen to be at risk of contracting this disease. However, in recent times, this infection has become a worldwide menace.

This is because anyone who comes in contact with contaminated food and water and invests it will contract the infection.

Treatment

Just as it is with most causative agents of diarrhea, cyclosporiasis can easily be treated with the use of antibiotics. However, it is important to note that no drug should be taken without a doctor’s prescription.

Hence, before using any antibiotic, you must consult your physician to know which is best suited for your body system.

Complications

When cyclosporiasis(cyclospora infection) is not treated, it causes diarrhea to occur. Once it is left untreated for am long period, the patient will experience dehydration, which will gradually progress from mild to severe depending on how much electrolyte and water is lost.

It is easy to treat dehydration in normal healthy adults by the intake of more fluids and electrolyte-based foods. For some people, however, if dehydration becomes severe, they may require hospitalization.

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In some patients, due to certain conditions, they may quickly spiral into severe dehydration and would require the use of intravenous fluids.

Such conditions that can result in this include:

  • People with serious underlying illnesses
  • Infants and children younger than the age of three
  • Adults who are older than 60

Prevention

To prevent the spread of cyclosporiasis and to avoid becoming infected by cyclospora infection, it is imperative that you watch what you eat and drink. You must be careful when ingesting fruits and farm produce as well as imported food.

It is important to know that in recent times, foods that have been imported from Canada and the United States of America have been linked to being one of the causes of outbreaks of cyclosporiasis.

According to research, this parasite doesn’t die by washing. This means that no matter how careful you wash your food, you are still at risk of developing cyclospora infection. Hence it is important to make sure that the food or fruits you want to take are considered safe by the food and drug administration database.

Sources;

  • Cyclospora Infection; Mayo Clinic
  • Parasites- Cyclosporiasis (Cyclospora Infections); CDC
Cyclosporiasis
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Disclaimer: This article is purely informative & educational in nature and should not be construed as medical advice. Please use the content only in consultation with an appropriate certified medical or healthcare professional.

Deborah Akinola
Wirter, poet and public speaker
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