Cases of Cyclospora, the nasty parasitic illness, are surfacing in dozens of states across the United States. Generally found on seasonal produce; berries, melons, herbs and lettuces just to name a few, this is typically the time of year cases surge. However, this years’ cases are experiencing a higher than usual spike. Public food safety and health officials are still actively investigating the source of many reported cases. Others, demonstrating geographic and circumstantial similarities, are easier for authorities to source. For instance, some clusters in other states have been linked to a specific basil imported from Mexico.
Food Poisoning Lawyer Tony Coveny, PhD is a food safety lawyer, author and commentator. He works with National Food Safety Lawyer Ron Simon.
The state of Virginia is not immune to the outbreak and in fact has almost 40 confirmed cases of Cyclospora. Nearly two-thirds of these cases have popped up in Northern Virginia as in the cluster having surfaced in Tysons Corner, a community in Fairfax County, in the northeast corner of Virginia. Investigators are looking at two cafeterias, at two different workplaces, with reports of ill consumers. The Capital One Building and the Valo Park Building are home to the cafeterias having served contaminated cuisine. Also, a CarMax on Tuckahoe Creek Parkway has been pulled in to the investigation. The Virginia Department of Health is in conversations with ill consumers in an effort to identify overlapping behaviors. And, having yet to identify the source are asking the businesses to assist in gathering information and take measures to mitigate further contamination.
Cyclospora, a microscopic parasite, is not passed from human to human directly. The parasite develops in the stool of an infected person, up to weeks after excretion. Once the parasitic infection is ‘activated’ and makes its way into the food supply consumed by many, the cycle has the potential to continue. It is very difficult to remove this parasite from produce so washing ahead of consumption does not always alleviate the risk. And, as it is found mostly on popular, imported fresh produce, the risk will continue. Reporting symptoms and receiving a correct diagnosis assures that the appropriate treatment is administered. And, public health officials, as those in Tysons Corner, are able to use information gathered to search for the source and alert the public.
For more information about the Virginia Cyclospora Outbreak, or to speak to a
, call 1-888-335-4901.