- June 13, 2019
- Organized By:
Alexandre da Silva, PhD
Senior Biomedical Research Microbiologist
FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition
About the Presentation
This lecture will discuss the recent scientific advances that affected the results of the 2018 cyclosporiasis outbreak investigations and the scientific gaps that remain major public health and regulatory challenges for FDA.
Cyclospora cayetanensis has emerged worldwide as a significant foodborne pathogen, causing a diarrheal illness called cyclosporiasis. In the U.S., C. cayetanensis has caused large and complex outbreaks, which were mainly linked to consuming imported fresh produce like cilantro.
In 2018, multiple outbreaks of cyclosporiasis linked to different produce were identified. The number of outbreak cases was higher than in previous years, with a total of 2,299 laboratory-confirmed, domestically acquired cases of cyclosporiasis reported from 33 states.
The two major cyclosporiasis outbreaks investigated in 2018 were associated with fresh produce vegetable trays produced by Del Monte and a variety of salads sold at McDonald’s restaurants. During the 2018 investigations, both imported and domestic fresh produce samples were tested for the presence of Cyclospora cayetanensis, using a validated laboratory method. These analyses confirmed the presence of the parasite in domestic and imported fresh produce. This was the first time in many years, that FDA has used a validated method to detect C. cayetanensis in foods in support of surveillance assignments and outbreak investigations
About the Presenter
Dr. Alexandre da Silva is a senior research microbiologist and Lead Parasitologist at FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition. Dr. da Silva began his career in 1992 at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as a junior parasitologist. At CDC, Dr. da Silva built a parasitology diagnostic program based on modern methods, like molecular methods and telediagnosis. In 2014, Dr. da Silva joined FDA to build a foodborne parasitology program of which the most recent achievement was the development and validation of a new molecular method for detecting C. cayetanensis in produce. It was published in FDA’s Bacteriological Analytical Manual in 2017. This method was used to confirm the presence of C. cayetanensis in food samples during the 2018 cyclosporiasis outbreak investigations. Dr. da Silva has authored/co-authored more than 120 publications in advanced detection of parasites and outbreak investigations of parasitic diseases associated with blood, tissue, and foodborne parasites.