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Cyclospora Risk for Travellers to Mexico (Update)

15 Aug 2016

In the UK there have been 265 cases of Cyclospora infection since 1 June 2016 (178 confirmed and 87 probable). Of these cases 193 are associated with travel to Mexico (87 in England, 94 in Scotland and 12 in other parts of the UK), 50 of these cases reported travel to hotels and resorts on the Riviera Maya coast. The source of infection is thought likely to be a foodstuff supplied to hotels throughout the area. Investigation into this outbreak is ongoing.

Awareness of the outbreak should be maintained and travellers to Mexico are strongly advised to maintain a high standard of food, water and personal hygiene, even if staying in high-end resorts.

Cyclospora cayetanensis is a protozoan parasite that infects humans and other primates. 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.

Advice for Travellers

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

Cyclospora Advice for TravellersPDF

Infection is transmitted through consumption of food or water that is contaminated with human faeces containing the parasite. Foods often implicated in outbreaks include soft fruits like raspberries and salad products such as coriander, basil and lettuce. Key points:

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

On return from Mexico, if you have any symptoms such as those described above you should seek medical attention and tell your GP about your travel history. Stool samples can be sent to diagnose, and antibiotics given to treat, the infection.