There is still limited knowledge of parasite transmission dynamics with respect to both Cryptosporidium and cyclospora, and much research is required in the arena of inactivation strategies. Because of changes in population diets, food production, and management, and improved diagnostic assays, more cases of parasitic infections are being reported. It is also important to note that there is a change in population demographics, with more susceptible groups increasing in numbers (the elderly, children, and the immunocompromised).
Epidemiological features of cryptosporidium lead to the almost overwhelming conclusion that the incidence of foodborne cryptosporidiosis is underestimated. The low numbers of oocysts in suspected samples and the lack of more sensitive detection methods adapted for oocyst detection in food undoubtedly contribute to this under-reporting. Control of foodborne outbreaks caused by parasites such as cryptosporidium and cyclospora is directly related to methods that prevent food contamination in the first place. Removal or inactivation of oocysts of both parasites is a formidable task, since these organisms strongly attach themselves to produce surfaces. Oocysts have proven highly resistant to sanitizers and disinfectants, particularly at concentrations that would not affect the organoleptic characteristics of the fresh produce.
Possible vehicles of transmission have been suspected to be contaminated soils, fertilizers, pesticide solutions, and irrigation water containing human or animal waste. Washing hands, appropriate hygiene, and GAPs may contribute to the prevention of pathogens in ready-to-eat foods.
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