Background: In the spring of 1996, an outbreak of cyclosporiasis associated with fresh Guatemalan raspberries occurred in the United States and Canada. Another multistate outbreak of cyclosporiasis occurred in North America in the spring of 1997.
Objective: To identify the vehicle of the outbreak that occurred in the spring of 1997.
Design: Retrospective cohort studies of clusters of cases associated with events (such as banquets) and traceback investigations of sources of implicated produce.
Setting: United States and Canada.
Patients: Persons who attended events associated with clusters of cases of cyclosporiasis.
Measurements: Identification of clinically defined or laboratory-confirmed cases of cyclosporiasis and risk factors for infection.
Results: 41 clusters of cases were reported in association with events held from 1 April through 26 May in 13 U.S. states, the District of Columbia, and 1 Canadian province. The clusters comprised 762 cases of cyclosporiasis, 192 (25.2%) of which were laboratory confirmed. In addition, 250 laboratory-confirmed sporadic cases were reported in persons who developed gastrointestinal symptoms from April through 15 June, for a total of 1012 cases. Fresh raspberries were the only food common to all 41 events and were the only type of berry served at 9 events (22.0%). Statistically significant associations between consumption of raspberry-containing items and cyclosporiasis were documented for 15 events (40.5% of 37). For 31 of the 33 events with well-documented traceback data, the raspberries either definitely came from Guatemala (8 events) or could have come from Guatemala (23 events). The mode of contamination of the raspberries remains unknown. The outbreak ended shortly after the exportation of fresh raspberries from Guatemala was voluntarily suspended at the end of May 1997.
Conclusions: Similar multistate, multicluster outbreaks of cyclosporiasis associated with consumption of Guatemalan raspberries have occurred in consecutive years. These outbreaks highlight the need for better understanding of the biology and epidemiology of Cyclospora cayetanensis and for stronger prevention and control measures to ensure the safety of produce eaten raw.
*For a list of the members of the Cyclospora Working Group, see the Appendix.