Cyclospora infection

Cyclospora infection causes watery, and sometimes explosive, diarrhea. The one-celled parasite that causes cyclospora infection can enter your body when you ingest contaminated food or water. Fresh produce is the culprit in many cases of cyclospora infection.

Because diarrhea can be caused by many things, it can be difficult to diagnose cyclospora infection unless a specialized stool test is done. Treatment for cyclospora infection is antibiotics. Food safety precautions may help prevent the disease.

Symptoms Causes Risk factors Complications Prevention

Some people infected with the microscopic parasite that causes cyclospora infection develop no signs or symptoms. For others, signs and symptoms — which usually begin within two to 11 days of eating contaminated food or drinking contaminated water — may include:

  • Frequent, watery diarrhea
  • Bouts of diarrhea alternating with bouts of constipation
  • Loss of appetite and weight loss
  • Bloating, flatulence and burping
  • Stomach cramps
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Muscle aches
  • Fever
  • Fatigue — this symptom may last long after the active infection has gotten better
  • General feeling of unwellness (malaise)

The diarrhea may end by itself within a few days, or it may last for weeks. If you have HIV or another condition that compromises your immune system, the infection can last for months if not treated.

When to see a doctor

Many conditions can cause diarrhea and other gastrointestinal signs and symptoms. If you develop persistent diarrhea that lasts several days or recurs, contact your doctor so that he or she can identify the cause and recommend treatment. If you've eaten a food that's been recalled because of a cyclospora outbreak or traveled in an area where parasites such as cyclospora are common, be sure to tell your doctor.

If you experience dehydration due to diarrhea, see your doctor. Warning signs of dehydration include:

  • Sunken eyes
  • Dry mouth and tongue
  • Reduced production of tears
  • Decreased urine output

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