At Least 39 Confirmed Cases of Cyclosporiasis In Virginia
The Virginia Department of Health is investigating the source of Cyclospora Bacteria responsible for at least 39 confirmed cases of Cyclosporiasis over the last few weeks.
According to a press release from the VDH, “An increase in cases was first identified in Northern Virginia in mid-June 2019. Our investigation has found an additional outbreak in Central Virginia. A food or water source of these outbreaks has not yet been identified.”
Cyclosporiasis is an intestinal illness caused by a microscopic parasite which typically causes watery diarrhea, with frequent, sometimes explosive, stools within one to two weeks after exposure. Other common symptoms include loss of appetite, weight loss, abdominal cramping or bloating, nausea and prolonged fatigue. Vomiting, body aches, low-grade fever, and other flu-like symptoms may be noted. If untreated, the illness may last for a few days to a month or longer and may seem to go away but come back again.
People can become infected by consuming food or water contaminated with feces or stool that contains the parasite. Illness occurs most often in tropical and subtropical regions. In the United States, past food-borne outbreaks of Cyclosporiasis have been linked to various types of imported fresh produce, such as raspberries, basil, arugula, snow peas, mesclun lettuce, and cilantro.
Of 39 U.S. Cyclospora outbreaks between 2000 and 2017, none have been associated with commercially frozen or canned products.
Since May 1, 2019 there have been 39 confirmed cases of Cyclosporiasis in Virginia (Central Region–4, Eastern Region–2, Northern Region–27, Northwest Region–4, Southwest Region–2).
The five-year average for the same time frame from 2014 to 2018 was 9 cases.
Workplace cafeterias in the following locations are part of the ongoing investigation:
- Capital One Building at 1600 Capital One Drive, McLean, VA 22102
- Valo Park Building at 7950 Jones Branch Drive, McLean, VA 22102
- CarMax at 12800 Tuckahoe Creek Parkway, Richmond, VA 23238
These cafeterias are not widely accessible to the general public. Health officials are working directly with business owners and affected individuals. VDH appreciates the ongoing cooperation of the businesses in assisting in this effort. They share our goal of ensuring the health and well-being of their employees and guests. Public health investigations are complex and it takes time to gather information about exposures, risk factors and illnesses. In some cases outbreak investigations may not identify a likely source.
Safely handling fruit and vegetables is the best way to prevent Cyclosporiasis:
- Wash: Wash hands with soap and warm water before and after handling or preparing fruits and vegetables.
- Prepare: Wash all fruits and vegetables thoroughly under running water before eating, cutting, or cooking.
- Fruits and vegetables that are labeled “prewashed” do not need to be washed again at home. Scrub firm fruits and vegetables, such as melons and cucumbers, with a clean produce brush. Cut away any damaged or bruised areas on fruits and vegetables before preparing and eating.
- Store: Refrigerate cut, peeled, or cooked fruits and vegetables as soon as possible, or within 2 hours.
Anyone experiencing symptoms of Cyclosporiasis should visit their healthcare provider. They can test for Cyclospora and prescribe the correct treatment. Physicians will report cases to the health department.