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A foodborne outbreak of Cyclospora cayetanensis at a wedding: clinical features and risk factors for illness.

BACKGROUND: Cyclospora cayetanensis, a coccidian parasite, has increasingly been recognized as a cause of gastrointestinal tract illness. We describe an outbreak of Cyclospora infection following a wedding reception.

OBJECTIVES: To investigate and characterize risk factors associated with the outbreak of Cyclospora and to describe the observed clinical course and spectrum of illness.

METHODS: Retrospective cohort study involving 94 of the 101 guests who attended a wedding reception at a restaurant in Boston, Mass.

RESULTS: Fifty-seven respondents met the case definition of infection; 12 of these had laboratory-confirmed Cyclospora. The epidemic curve was consistent with a point source outbreak with a median incubation period of 7 days. Commonly reported symptoms included diarrhea (100%), weight loss (93%), fatigue (91%), and anorexia (90%). The illness had a characteristic waxing and waning course, with 51 persons (89%) reporting recurring symptoms and 35 (61%) reporting illness lasting more than 3 weeks. By univariate analysis, infection was significantly associated (P<.05) with consumption of wine and a dessert containing raspberries, strawberries, blackberries, and blueberries. Only the dessert remained significant by stratified analysis with an adjusted relative risk of 2.1 (95% confidence interval, 1.4-3.2).

CONCLUSIONS: Findings from this study support a point source outbreak of the newly identified pathogen C cayetanensis, with berries as the vehicle of transmission. It suggests that Cyclospora may cause severe diarrhea associated with profound anorexia and weight loss, and should be considered in the evaluation of prolonged gastrointestinal tract illness.

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