Since May 2023, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and local and state health officials have been investigating an uptick in Cyclosporiasis cases nation-wide, including in Oklahoma.
Cyclosporiasis is a diarrheal illness caused by a single-celled parasite and is spread by consumption of contaminated food or water, which becomes contaminated after exposure to fecal matter from ill individuals. Cyclospora is not known to be spread person- to-person.
“We have seen cases increase here, but we don’t want people to panic,” said the State Epidemiologist Jolianne Stone. “Our goal is to share information with Oklahomans on how they can work to prevent potential illnesses and what to do if they start to feel sick.”
To help prevent illness individuals should wash fruits and vegetables thoroughly, practice good hand hygiene and avoid handling food if ill with diarrhea.
The Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) encourages individuals to contact their healthcare provider if they experience symptoms of Cyclosporiasis which can include watery diarrhea, loss of appetite, weight loss, bloating, stomach cramps, nausea, vomiting, muscle aches and fatigue. These symptoms typically appear one week after exposure.
“We are currently encouraging healthcare providers to think about testing patients for Cyclospora if a patient has any of the symptoms listed above, especially watery diarrhea that has persisted for over a week,” said Stone. “There is treatment for this, so if someone is diagnosed, they will work with their doctor to get medication.”
The OSDH is actively working with the CDC and FDA to investigate what may be the cause of these illnesses.