Sarcoystosis outbreak in Malaysia

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What is Sarcocystosis?

 

Sarcocystosis is a illness caused by infection with parasite called Sarcocystis. Sarcocystosis affects areas in tropical or subtropical countries, including countries in Southeast Asia. This disease is common among wild and domestic animals but can also cause disease in humans. Two forms of the disease can occur: one causes diarrhea and the other causes muscle pain, fevers, and other symptoms. Muscle sarcocystosis is spread through the ingestion of food, water, or soil contaminated with infected animal feces. Many people infected with Sarcocystis may not have symptoms. In a lot of cases muscle pain in Trekkers is attributed to excessive effort and muscle sprain while in fact they could be suffering from this particular illness.

 

The travelers described in this notice returned from Malaysia with severe muscle pain. Other reported symptoms included mild diarrhea and fever. Most people were ill for 2-4 weeks after leaving the affected areas.

 

How Can Travelers Protect Themselves?

 

Unfortunately no vaccine or medicine is known to prevent or treat sarcocystosis. Because sarcocystosis is spread through food or water contaminated with animal waste, travelers are advised to avoid contact with animals, to eat and drink safe food and water, and to wash hands frequently.

Avoid contact with animals

Drink and use safe water

Eat safe food

 

Information for Healthcare workers:

 

Muscle sarcocystosis can be suspected in persons with signs and symptoms of myositis, with or without fever. Ill patients may have an elevated eosinophil count and may have an elevated creatine kinase (CK) with no other explanation for these findings.

 

Eosinophil counts and CK levels may be normal initially and rise approximately 40 days after infection. A muscle biopsy can be done by using a conventional histologic staining and will show myositis but may or may not demonstrate classic sarcocysts. Molecular testing is not widely available.