Cyclospora cayetanensis: a review, focusing on the outbreaks of cyclosporiasis in the 1990s

Clin Infect Dis. 2000 Oct;31(4):1040-57. doi: 10.1086/314051. Epub 2000 Oct 10.


Cyclospora cayetanensis, a coccidian parasite that causes protracted, relapsing gastroenteritis, has a short recorded history. In retrospect, the first 3 documented human cases of Cyclospora infection were diagnosed in 1977 and 1978. However, not much was published about the organism until the 1990s. One of the surprises has been the fact that a parasite that likely requires days to weeks outside the host to become infectious has repeatedly caused foodborne outbreaks, including large multistate outbreaks in the United States and Canada. In this review, I discuss what has been learned about this enigmatic parasite since its discovery and what some of the remaining questions are. My focus is the foodborne and waterborne outbreaks of cyclosporiasis that were documented from 1990 through 1999. The occurrence of the outbreaks highlights the need for health care personnel to consider that seemingly isolated cases of infection could be part of widespread outbreaks and should be reported to public health officials. Health care personnel should also be aware that stool specimens examined for ova and parasites usually are not examined for Cyclospora unless such testing is specifically requested and that Cyclospora infection is treatable with trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Canada / epidemiology
  • Cyclospora / isolation & purification
  • Cyclosporiasis / diagnosis
  • Cyclosporiasis / drug therapy
  • Cyclosporiasis / epidemiology*
  • Disease Outbreaks*
  • Feces / parasitology
  • Food Parasitology
  • Foodborne Diseases / epidemiology
  • Fruit / parasitology
  • Gastroenteritis / diagnosis
  • Gastroenteritis / drug therapy
  • Gastroenteritis / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Trimethoprim, Sulfamethoxazole Drug Combination / therapeutic use
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Water / parasitology


  • Water
  • Trimethoprim, Sulfamethoxazole Drug Combination