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Decline Noted in 2016 Cyclospora Cases - FDA Continues Regional Import Alert and Testing of Cilantro from Puebla, Mexico

September 26, 2016

The number of domestically acquired Cyclospora infections reported in 2016 declined when compared to the three years prior. The FDA has conducted a variety of activities in recent years in response to epidemiologic and traceback information linking Cyclospora cayetanensis foodborne illnesses to fresh cilantro grown in Puebla, Mexico.

From 2013 to 2015, the FDA and Mexican authorities performed inspections and environmental assessments at multiple farms and packing houses in the Puebla region, where they found conditions and practices that may cause the contamination of cilantro and other produce with human fecal pathogens. As a result, the FDA implemented an Import Alert for fresh cilantro from the state of Puebla, Mexico. Beginning in 2015, from April 1 through August 31, cilantro from this region has been and continues to be detained without physical examination at the U.S.-Mexican border and refused admission into the United States. The April through August time period aligns with the seasonality of previous C. cayetanensis outbreaks. Only cilantro producers on the “Green List” in the state of Puebla, who must comply with 11 minimal requirements on good agricultural and food safety practices as part of Mexico’s Systems of Risk Reduction of Contamination, are excluded from detention without physical examination under the import alert. The FDA and the government of Mexico’s National Agro-Alimentary Health, Safety and Quality Service (SENASICA) and Federal Commission for the Protection from Sanitary Risks (COFEPRIS) established these controls under the framework of a partnership to promote the safety of fresh and minimally processed agricultural products, formalized by the two countries in a statement of intent signed on July 24, 2014.

This year, 2016, was the first full season that FDA’s Import Alert for fresh cilantro from Puebla has been in effect.

Additionally, the FDA implemented a testing program for cilantro from Puebla, Mexico, and has conducted industry outreach on C. cayetanensis control and prevention strategies in partnership with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

As of September 16, 2016, CDC reports at least 134 laboratory-confirmed cases of cyclosporiasis in persons who became infected in the United States and reported illness onset on/after May 1, 2016. For the same period in 2015, 319 confirmed cases were reported.

For additional information about FDA’s role in investigating C. cayetanensis outbreaks, refer to:

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