The global sentinel surveillance system, GeoSentinel has notified the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) of four cases of the parasitic disease, sarcocystosis, in travelers to the Malaysian vacation spot, Tioman Island.
This has prompted the CDC to issue a travel notice Monday and offer preventive measures for travelers to Tioman Island.
Sarcocystosis is a disease caused by a parasite called Sarcocystis. Sarcocystosis occurs in tropical or subtropical countries, including countries in Southeast Asia.
The parasite is most prevalent in areas where livestock is raised.
Sarcocystosis manifests itself in humans in one of two ways: as an intestinal disease that produces diarrhea, or more commonly as an infection of the muscles causing myalgia, muscle weakness, edema and fever.
People are infected through ingestion of food, water, or soil contaminated with infected animal feces.
The travelers described by GeoSentinal returned from Malaysia with severe muscle pain.
Currently, there is no proven prophylaxis or therapeutic treatment for either intestinal or tissue sarcocystosis.
The CDC advises travelers to Tioman Island to do the following to prevent sarcocystosis:
Avoid contact with animals
• Do not touch or feed animals, especially cats and wild animals.
• Do not touch animal droppings.
• Avoid contact with soil that may be contaminated with animal droppings.
Drink and use safe water
• Drink bottled water or water that has been boiled or filtered. Water purification tablets and chlorine products may not kill Sarcocystis.
• Do not drink beverages with ice unless you are sure the ice was made with safe water.
• When swimming, avoid getting water in the mouth, eyes, or nose.
Eat safe food
• Cook all meat to 160°F (71°C), especially pork and beef.
• Eat cooked food hot.
• Keep all food covered.
• Do not eat raw or undercooked foods, especially shellfish, except for fruits and vegetables you can wash with safe water or peel yourself.
Wash your hands
• Wash your hands with soap and safe water. If you do not have soap, use an alcohol-based (60%) hand sanitizer.
• Wash your hands before you eat or prepare food, before feeding your children, after using the toilet, after changing diapers, and after taking care of someone ill with diarrhea.
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