Cyclospora, a bacteria that causes a stomach infection, is on the rise in Maryland.
Cyclospora, a bacteria that causes a stomach infection, is on the rise in Maryland. (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention/AP)

Maryland health officials are investigating a spike this year in the number of reported cases of Cyclospora, a microscopic parasite that causes intestinal infection.

The Maryland Department of Health said in a statement Thursday that there have been 42 lab-confirmed cases in the state this year, 37 of which were reported in the last two weeks.

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What is Cyclospora?

Cyclospora is a one-cell parasite that is spread by people ingesting food or water contaminated with feces, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Illness occurs most often in tropical and subtropical regions.

Cyclosporiasis, the infection caused by the parasite, is on the rise in other parts of the country, according to Maryland health officials.

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms include watery diarrhea, loss of appetite, weight loss, cramping, bloating, increased gas, nausea and fatigue.

Symptoms can persist for several weeks to a month or more, Maryland health officials said in the statement. Anyone experiencing symptoms of cyclosporiasis should contact their health care provider.

Where is it coming from?

In the U.S., food-borne outbreaks of cyclosporiasis have been linked to various types of imported fresh produce, such as raspberries, basil, snow peas, mesclun lettuce and cilantro, state health officials said.

The Maryland Department of Health is working with local and federal health officials to investigate the increase in cases. No specific source for these cases has been identified, officials said.

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