IFST has updated its Information Statement on Cyclospora, prepared by Julie Ashmore CSci FIFST and peer reviewed by IFST’s Scientific Committee. IFST Information Statements summarise the authoritative and impartial science behind key food science issues.
Cyclospora cayetanensis is an emerging infectious disease agent that causes a prolonged and severe diarrhoeal illness known as cyclosporiasis. This infection was first reported in 1979 in Papua New Guinea where an oocyst-like body was found in 3 patients with intestinal infections. It emerged in North America in 1995 and again in 1996 when it was the cause of over two thousand cases of foodborne disease, with no reported deaths.
Cyclosporiasis is endemic to many tropical regions of the world and has been reported in 27 countries; in the UK almost all cases are confined to travellers returning from tropical countries. The microbiological safety of fresh fruit and salad vegetables depends on the avoidance of contamination with pathogenic microorganisms at all stages of production, most particularly in the field. The increasingly global supply chain and increase in consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables has the potential to provide a greater risk of contamination by foodborne pathogens, including Cyclospora.