The British Columbia Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) is reporting an increase in gastrointestinal illness caused by the cyclospora parasite.

With 43 cases of Cyclospora infections so far this year, the BCCDC is reminding people to take precautions to prevent gastrointestinal illness by washing fruits and vegetables thoroughly, cooking produce when possible, and being aware of risks when travelling.

Cyclospora causes gastrointestinal illness with common symptoms of diarrhea, abdominal cramps, nausea, vomiting and occasionally fever. Young children, older adults, and people with weakened immune systems are more likely to have a severe illness.

Cyclospora infection can occur due to eating contaminated, imported raw produce, especially leafy greens, fresh herbs and berries.

Cyclospora is a parasite most commonly found in tropical and subtropical areas, including Peru, Cuba, India, Nepal, Mexico, Guatemala, Dominican Republic, and Southeast Asia.

Health authorities advises people to take precautions when preparing and consuming imported foods that have been previously linked with Cyclospora infection. These foods include »

  • Vegetables
    • broccoli
    • lettuce
    • cabbage
    • celery
    • peas
    • snap peas
    • cucumbers
    • carrots
    • green onions
  • Fresh herbs
    • basil
    • cilantro
  •  Berries
    • cherries
    • raspberries
    • blackberries

To reduce the risk of Cyclospora and other gastrointestinal infections, the BCCDC advice is to »

  • Wash your hands thoroughly before handling food.
  • Wash fruits and vegetables as thoroughly as possible before eating them.
  • Cook fruits and vegetables when possible.
  • Do not drink untreated surface water from streams, rivers, lakes, ponds or shallow wells.

Source » BCCDC