Health officials in Canada are investigating dozens of Cyclospora infections in four provinces.

Cyclospora oocysts
Oocysts of C. cayetanensis viewed under differential interference contrast (DIC) microscopy.
Image/CDC DPDx

To date, a total of 51 cases have been reported: in British Columbia (1), Alberta (2), Ontario (44), and Quebec (4). Individuals became sick between May and July 2016.

The source of the outbreak has not been identified. Imported fresh produce products are currently items of interest in the ongoing investigation.

Previous foodborne illness outbreaks of Cyclospora in Canada and US have been linked to various types of imported fresh produce, such as pre-packaged salad mix, basil, cilantro, raspberries, blackberries, mesclun lettuce and snow  and snap peas.

Cyclospora is a microscopic single-celled parasite that is passed in people’s feces. If it comes in contact with food or water, it can infect the people who consume it. This causes an intestinal illness called cyclosporiasis.

Cyclospora is not common on food and is not in drinking water in Canada. The parasite is most common in some tropical and subtropical countries such as Peru, Cuba, India, Nepal, Mexico, Guatemala, Southeast Asia and Dominican Republic. In Canada, non-travel related illnesses due to Cyclospora occur more frequently in the spring and summer months. Illnesses among travellers can happen at any time of year.