February 23, 2024

Northern Virginia Cyclospora Outbreak Has Sickened At Least 55

A cyclospora outbreak in Northern Virginia and the Arlington area has sickened at least 55 people, according to the Virginia Department of Health. This is a significant increase in cases reported since mid June 2019.

Northern Virginia Cyclospora Outbreak Has Sickened At Least 55

There are 15 cyclosporiasis cases in Northern Virginia, and more than 40 people sick from “two large businesses in the area,” are under investigation for suspected cyclosporiasis. The businesses are not named. And a food or water source of this outbreak has not been identified.

The Virginia Department of Health is working with state, local, and federal health officials to investigate this increase. Northern Virginia Health Districts involved in this investigation include Alexandria, Arlington, Fairfax (Fairfax County, the City of Fairfax and Falls Church), Loudoun, and Prince William (Prince William County and the cities of Manassas and Manassas Park).

There are cyclospora outbreaks that are ongoing in several parts of the country. More than 90 people are sick in New York City, and an outbreak¬†at Cooper’s Hawk Winery in Florida has sickened 80 to 100 more. In addition, there is a cyclosporiasis outbreak in Boston that has sickened more than 100 people, and an outbreak in Michigan that has sickened eight people is associated with Taste restaurant.

Symptoms of cyclosporiasis, the illness caused by this single celled parasite, include watery and explosive diarrhea that can last for weeks or months, bloating, abdominal cramps, fatigue, nausea, loss of appetite, body aches, low grade fever, other flu-like symptoms, and weight loss. If this infection is not treated by antibiotics, it can recur without warning.

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Anyone experiencing these symptoms should see a healthcare provider. A test for a cyclospora infection is not routinely ordered by doctors, so you may have to ask for one.

To help prevent this illness, always wash all fruits and vegetables thoroughly under clean running water before eating or preparing. Scrub tougher produce using a clean food grade brush. Don’t rewash produce that is labeled “prewashed.” And store all cut, peeled, or cooked fruits and vegetables within two hours of preparation.

Still, it’s difficult to remove this parasite from produce so many of these illnesses are not preventable, but are treatable with antibiotics. Keep current with recall notices and always buy produce from a reputable dealer.

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