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Cyclospora in Travellers Returning From Mexico

06 Aug 2018

Cases of cyclospora infection in travellers who have recently returned from Mexico is being monitored by Public Health England, in collaboration with Health Protection Scotland, Public Health Wales and the Public Health Agency in Northern Ireland.

This is the fourth successive year since 2015 that cases of cyclospora infection have been reported in travellers returning from Mexico.

In 2018, as of 3 August, 57 cases of cyclospora have been reported in England, Scotland and Wales, of which 46 had travelled to Mexico. Where information is known, cases have stayed at several different hotels in the Cancun and Riviera Maya region (mostly on an all-inclusive basis), suggesting the source is again likely to be a foodstuff that has been distributed to hotels throughout the region.

Cyclospora cayetanensis is a protozoan parasite that can infect humans. Infection can cause frequent, watery diarrhoea, abdominal cramping, bloating, nausea, flatulence, low-grade fever, loss of appetite and weight. HIV positive individuals and those with other immune deficiencies can be at risk of more severe infection.

All travellers to Mexico are strongly advised to maintain a high standard of food, water and personal hygiene, even if staying in high-end resorts.

Advice for Travellers

An advice sheet for travellers can be accessed via the following link

Infection is transmitted through consumption of contaminated food or water, direct person to person spread does not occur. Foods often implicated in outbreaks include soft fruits like raspberries and salad products such as coriander, basil and lettuce.

Key points:

  • Drinking water must be bottled, boiled, or purified with a special filter designed for drinking water.
  • Iodine and chlorine do not kill cyclospora.
  • Food should be freshly prepared, thoroughly cooked and eaten hot whenever possible.
  • Uncooked berries, unpeeled fruit and salad leaves are best avoided since these are difficult to clean.
  • Further food and water advice
  • Preventing and treating travellers'diarrhoea

On return from Mexico, if travellers have any symptoms such as those described above they should seek medical attention and inform their GP of their travel history.