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Giardia, Cryptosporidium, and Cyclospora and Their Impact on Foods: A Review

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While the risk from pathogenic microorganisms in foods has been recognized for hundreds of years, bacterial agents are generally implicated as the contaminants. Although many outbreaks of gastroenteritis caused by protozoan pathogens have occurred, it is only in the last 3 years that attention has focused on protozoan association with foodborne transmission. Recognized as waterborne parasites, Giardia, Cryptosporidium, and Cyclospora have now been associated with several foodborne outbreaks. The oocysts and cysts of these organisms can persist and survive for long periods of time both in water and on foods. While Cyclospora oocysts require a maturation period, Cryptosporidium oocysts and Giardia cysts are immediately infectious upon excretion from the previous host. As a result, these parasites have emerged as public health risks and have become a concern to the food industry. More than 200 cases of foodborne giardiasis (seven outbreaks) were reported from 1979 to 1990. Four foodborne Cryptosporidium outbreaks (with a total of 252 cases) have been documented since 1993. Cyclospora caused a series of sporadic outbreaks of cyclosporasis throughout North America that have affected over 3,038 people since 1995. Control and prevention of protozoan foodborne disease depends upon our ability to prevent, remove, or kill protozoan contaminants. This review will address the biology, foodborne and waterborne transmission, survival, and methods for detection and control of Giardia, Cryptosporidium, and Cyclospora.

Document Type: Review Article

Affiliations: Department of Marine Science, University of South Florida, 140 7th Avenue S., St. Petersburg, Florida 33701, USA

Publication date: September 1, 1999

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    The Journal of Food Protection (JFP) is a refereed monthly publication. Each issue contains scientific research and authoritative review articles reporting on a variety of topics in food science pertaining to food safety and quality. The Journal is internationally recognized as the leading publication in the field of food microbiology with a readership exceeding 11,000 scientists from 70 countries. The Journal of Food Protection is indexed in Index Medicus, Current Contents, BIOSIS, PubMed, Medline, and many others.

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