Improving Information Sharing for Cyclospora cayetanensis
by Rhodel Bradshaw , senior specialist , Food Safety
Information sharing is an integral part of human advancement — everything from learning to tie our shoes to building the tallest skyscraper requires the sharing of information . The same can be said for surveillance of public health threats . Information shared amongst health agencies can be used to understand disease occurrences and has the potential to impact populations . For example , agencies can learn best practices on monitoring threats , provide methods to control the spread of a threat , communicate risks to those affected and so much more . Specific to sharing information created by the laboratory , data transfer is important for public health domestically and globally . The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
( CDC ) is working with a small number of states to improve data sharing related to Cyclospora cayetanensis
national surveillance .
Tracking a Tricky Parasite
Cyclospora cayetanensis is a parasitic pathogen that requires a human host to continue its life cycle . In the environment , the organism remains dormant until the right conditions — such as warm temperatures and time — allow for maturation into its infective sporulated phase . Unaware , victims become infected by ingesting contaminated water or food products such as raspberries , basil , snow peas , lettuce , cilantro or other fresh produce . The host then develops cyclosporiasis , an illness characterized by gastrointestinal distress and diarrheal episodes . Consequently , parasitic material is shed in the feces , and the pathogen enters the environment to restart its life cycle . As of now , the only known route of transmission for the organism is via ingestion of contaminated food or drink , and there are no known animal reservoirs .
Annually , C . cayetanensis is estimated to cause approximately 11,000 cases of foodborne illness , although many fewer cases are reported , with an estimated $ 9.3 million in total economic burden .
This photomicrograph of a fresh stool sample revealed the presence of four Cyclospora cayetanensis oocysts in the field of view . Photo : CDC / DPDx / Melanie Moser
Although reported year-round , cases increase during the spring and summer months ( May through September ), which is known as the cyclosporiasis season . In 2021 there were 1,020 laboratory confirmed cases of cyclosporiasis reported from 36 different states and one city municipality . Of those , CDC investigated 170 laboratory confirmed cases linked to two multi-state outbreaks involving C . cayetanensis . Both outbreaks were presumed to be caused by consumption of contaminated leafy greens , however investigators were unable to identify the source .
for Cyclosporiasis Season
Outbreaks , such as the two mentioned previously , are detected when specimens and / or data are received in public health laboratories and shared with federal partners . State or local public health laboratories send confirmed Cyclospora specimens for genotyping at CDC or send in-house generated genotyping data to CDC with a submission form . Bioinformaticians assign each sample to a specific temporal-genetic cluster using measures of genetic distance and date of testing , and results are passed to CDC epidemiologists , who can compare genotyping clusters to epidemiologically identified clusters to facilitate outbreak investigations . Throughout the cyclosporiasis season , CDC sends weekly reports to laboratories that outline the status of submitted specimens and an epidemiological report that includes additional detail such as the temporalgenetic clusters to which specimens were assigned . CDC epidemiologists also remain in close contact with state epidemiologists throughout the cyclosporiasis season as potential outbreaks are investigated .
Surveillance efforts would not be complete without bi-directional sharing laboratory data and other investigationrelated information between and among public health agencies , and the same can be said with Cyclospora cayetanensis national surveillance . Information received for any pathogenic agent creates a comprehensive safety program and helps public health officials monitor , detect , and prevent the spread of disease and illnesses .
1 . Centers for Disease Control and Prevention . Anthrax Surveillance . July 2021 . Available from : https :// www . cdc . gov / anthrax / public-health / surveillance / index . html
2 . Centers for Disease Control and Prevention . 2021 Domestically Acquired Cases of Cyclosporiasis . September 30 , 2021 . Available from : https :// www . cdc . gov / parasites / cyclosporiasis / outbreaks / 2021 / seasonal / index . html