Non-travel methods investigated as mystery  Cyclospora outbreak spreads to Canada

Non-travel methods investigated as mystery  Cyclospora outbreak spreads to Canada

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Public Health Canada is working on non-travel-related Cyclospora infections occurring in the country.

The agency is investigating non-travel cases with public health and food safety partners.

As of June 30, reports included a total of 84 cases of Cyclospora infections in the following provinces: British Columbia (1), Ontario (75), and Quebec (8). 

Four individuals were hospitalized, with no deaths reported. There is no recall or Public Health Notice while the investigation is ongoing.

In case you are experiencing Cyclosporiasis symptoms such as watery diarrhea (most common), cramping, bloating, increased gas, nausea, fatigue, and possibly vomiting and low-grade fever, it is essential to report it. 

It can help to detect and resolve outbreaks early and, prevent others from being harmed and enable better surveillance. If symptoms persist, seek medical care.

According to Public Health of Canada, the most common way to spread Cyclospora is by eating food or drinking water that contains the Cyclospora parasite. 

Cyclospora is rarely found in food and not in Canada’s drinking water. However, food can be a source of cyclosporiasis for Canadians, usually when imported from countries where Cyclospora is common. 

Foods imported to Canada with links to the Cyclospora parasite include:

  • basil
  • cilantro
  • raspberries
  • blackberries
  • mesclun lettuce
  • snow and snap peas
  • pre-packaged salad mix

Cyclosporiasis is unlikely to spread directly between people. To spread, the parasite must be outside the body for about 7 to 15 days. The parasite can only infect others once it leaves your body through feces. 

Only humans and possibly primates can be affected by Cyclospora. Therefore cyclosporiasis does not spread between humans and animals. 

If you have already had cyclosporiasis, you can get it after recovery if you are exposed to the parasite again.

The microscopic Cyclospora parasite gets in water when feces from infected people enter the water supply. Food can then become contaminated when this water is used: 

  • on crops 
  • in food processing and packaging 

Foods can also become contaminated by infected farm workers or food handlers. This is when proper sanitation techniques are not used, such as: 

  • hand washing
  • gloves or another barrier
  • avoidance of cross-contamination 

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