Cyclospora food poisoning can result in losing out on what should have been an enjoyable holiday, as you end up spending more time in your hotel room bathroom, rather than on a sun lounger. This could leave you feeling out of pocket, having spent out on a holiday that you were unable to enjoy.
In this guide we'll explain what you need to know about the lesser known parasite, what you can expect from a Cyclospora infection, and what your rights are to claim compensation from your tour operator if it ruins your package holiday.
What is Cyclospora?
Also known by its full name Cyclospora cayetanensis; Cyclospora is a protozoan (single celled) parasite that shares many similarities with Cryptosporidium. Like Cryptosporidium, this parasite manifests as an intestinal infection and can be found in unclean sources of water as well as in food.
The parasite is undetectable by the naked eye in infected food or water, and can only be identified by testing samples of contaminated produce and water, or through a stool sample test specifically designed to detect Cyclospora.
Where Does Cyclospora Come From?
Cyclospora can be contracted through the consumption of tainted food or water, and in our experience - fruits or vegetables that have been washed in contaminated water or grown in contaminated soil are a common route of infection.
While there's not much evidence to support it, it's possible that due to Cyclospora being found in faecal matter that it could be transmitted from person to person, potentially as a result of poor hygiene.
It's also possible that birds, insects and animals could transmit the illness through the faecal-oral route of infection, whether through direct contact with them or indirectly by eating food they have infected.
What Symptoms Can Cyclospora cause?
This microscopic pathogen can cause a range of symptoms to manifest, including:
- severe diarrhoea
- loss of appetite
- weight loss
- stomach cramps and abdominal pain
- nausea, fatigue and bloating
In some instances you might also suffer from vomiting and experience flu-like symptoms such as fever, aches and headaches.
How Long Does a Cyclospora Infection Last?
It usually takes Cyclospora a week from the time you are infected to the time that you begin to exhibit symptoms, known as the incubation period.
Once you begin to suffer from the symptoms it can take anywhere between a few days and several weeks, and in some cases months for your body to fight off the parasite.
It's also possible to relapse, wherein you may appear to have recovered from your symptoms, only for them to come back again.
What should I do if I think I've caught Cyclospora?
If you suffer any of these symptoms while on holiday it's important to make sure that when you visit your GP or a doctor at a resort and request that they test you for Cyclospora as soon as possible.
Like most gastric illnesses this will require a stool sample test, however due to Cyclospora being a less well known gastric illness, some labs can skip the pathogen, looking out for other better known gastric illness pathogens such as E. coli, Salmonella and Campylobacter.
This can often result in a generic diagnosis of gastroenteritis, and the resulting treatment methods might not be as effective.
Once you have received a diagnosis you should receive the most beneficial treatment, which in addition to the appropriate medication, will usually require rest and plenty of fluids to prevent you from suffering the adverse effects of dehydration that can come from diarrhoea and vomiting.
Where Can I Catch Cyclospora From?
While it's possible to catch Cyclospora from anywhere in the world where there are unsanitary conditions, at present we've mainly been receiving reports of holidaymakers suffering from the parasite in Mexico.
If you have suffered from this harmful parasite at another holiday destination around the world, we would like to hear from you.
Can I Claim for My Ruined Holiday?
If you booked a package holiday and suffered from a holiday illness that could have been prevented by your hotel, or that you could have been warned of by your tour operator, then under The Package Travel Regulations 1992 (PTRs) you may be able to claim compensation.
The PTRs are in in place to ensure that your tour operator takes reasonable steps to prevent any harm from coming to you or your family while on a package holiday, covering everything that is provided to you as part of your contract with your holiday company. This means that you can usually claim for any illness that you suffer as a result of any services supplied by any third parties, including any hotel restaurants.
What Do I Need to Do to Claim for a Cyclospora Infection?
Making a compensation claim against your tour operator is a simple process. It's advisable to speak to your GP or another medical professional and receive a diagnosis as soon as possible, as well as taking any photos or recording video of any unsanitary conditions at your hotel.
Once you've gathered your evidence we recommend speaking to one of our travel law specialists before making a formal complaint to your tour operator. The legal teams at the big tour operators in the UK can often try to settle holiday illness cases for a fraction of their true value, and once you've accepted their offer of compensation you may be unable to claim again.
Know Your Rights, Receive Legal Advice
Our travel law specialists can provide you with a free no-obligation consultation during which we can advise you of the options available to you to pursue a claim against your tour operator in plain, jargon-free English.
If we represent you we can do so on a 'no win no fee' basis and we can advise you of the amount of compensation we can pursue on your behalf.
If you would like to find out more about making a claim following a Cyclospora infection on your package holiday, then please don’t hesitate to contact us by completing our online enquiry form or by calling us directly on 0808 145 1353.