Cyclosporiasis results from ingesting food or water that has been contaminated with feces that contain the parasite.
Multiple cases of cyclosporiasis, an intestinal illness linked to the consumption of contaminated food and water, have been reported in northern and central Virginia. Specifically, cyclosporiasis occurs when the food or water has been contaminated with feces or stool that contain the microscopic parasite, cyclospora.
There have been 39 confirmed cases so far. Areas that are affected by the outbreak include Fairfax, Alexandria, Arlington, Loudoun County, Prince William County, Manassas and Manassas Park, Falls Church, and Richmond.
According to the Virginia Department of Health (VDH), three workplace cafeterias are being investigated in connection to the outbreak:
Capital One Building at 1600 Capital One Drive, in McLean Virginia
Valo Park Building at 7950 Jones Branch Drive, in McLean, Virginia
CarMax at 12800 Tuckahoe Creek Parkway, in Richmond, Virginia
At this point, it's not known what food product was the source of the cyclospora.
"Public health investigations are complex, and it takes time to gather information about exposures, risk factors, and illnesses," a VDH news release said. "In some cases, outbreak investigations may not identify a likely source."
What to Do
If you were infected by the virus, you are advised to seek medical care immediately so that your doctor can provide proper treatment. The doctor will then be able to report your case to the health department to help solve the issue.
Symptoms include nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, loss of appetite, weight loss, abdominal cramping or bloating, and prolonged fatigue. If you experience any of these maladies, consult with your doctor right away.
Have you come down with cyclosporiasis? Do you regularly eat at one of these cafeterias? Tell us in the comments!