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Update: DC Health Conducting Investigations for Gastrointestinal Illnesses Associated with Cyclospora

Friday, July 26, 2019

Update: 7/26/19 at 3:30pm:

The District of Columbia Department of Health (DC Health) is notifying the public that there has been an increase in the number of reported cyclosporiasis cases in the District. In 2019 there have been 19 cases reported among DC residents as compared with a total of 8 cases reported in 2018. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced yesterday, July 25th, 2019, fresh basil exported by Siga Logistics de RL de CV located in Morelos, Mexico is potentially linked to these illnesses. The DC Health Food Safety and Hygiene Inspection Services Division and the Center for Policy, Planning and Evaluation are working closely with other local, state, and federal public health officials to continue the investigation.

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The District of Columbia Department of Health (DC Health) is notifying the public that there has been an increase in the number of reported cyclosporiasis cases in the District. In 2019 there have been 14 cases reported among DC residents as compared with a total of 8 cases reported in 2018. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced yesterday, July 25, 2019, that fresh basil exported by Siga Logistics de RL de CV located in Morelos, Mexico is potentially linked to these illnesses. The DC Health Food Safety and Hygiene Inspection Services Division and the Center for Policy, Planning and Evaluation are working closely with other local, state, and federal public health officials to continue the investigation. 

Recommendations for Consumers
The FDA advises consumers to avoid buying, eating, or serving fresh basil products exported by Siga Logistics de RL de CV located in Morelos, Mexico. Do not consume or serve uncooked items like pesto or salad that may include fresh basil from Mexico, unless you are certain it was not exported by Siga Logistics de RL de CV. If consumers are unsure if the basil came from this company, they should avoid it.

Recommendations for Restaurants, Retailers, Distributors, Importers, and Suppliers
The FDA strongly advises food service providers not sell, serve, or distribute fresh basil exported by Siga Logistics de RL de CV located in Morelos, Mexico. If you are unsure of the source of the basil, do not serve or distribute the fresh imported basil.

About Cyclospora
Cyclospora is a microscopic parasite that causes an intestinal infection called cyclosporiasis. People can become infected by consuming food or water contaminated by feces (stool). Transmission from person to person is unlikely. People who live in tropical or subtropical regions are more at risk for acquiring the parasite, however there have been outbreaks in the United States that have been linked to various types of fresh produce. 

It usually takes about one week for symptoms to appear and they can last from a few days to a month or longer. Cyclospora causes watery diarrhea with frequent, sometimes explosive bowel movements. Other symptoms may include loss of appetite, weight loss, stomach cramps/pain, bloating, increased gas, nausea, or fatigue. A person may also experience flu-like symptoms such as vomiting, headaches, body aches, and fever. If you think you might be infected with Cyclospora, please see your healthcare provider. 

Prevention of Cyclosporiasis
•    Wash your hands with soap and warm water before and after handling fruits and vegetables. 
•    Wash all fruits and vegetables thoroughly under running water before eating, cutting, or cooking.
•    Scrub firm fruits such as melons and cucumbers with a clean produce brush. Damaged or bruised areas should be cut away and discarded before preparing and eating. 
•    Wash cutting boards, dishes, utensils, and counter tops with soap and hot water between the preparation of raw meat, poultry, and seafood products and the preparation of fruits and vegetables that will not be cooked.
•    Refrigerate cut, peeled, or cooked fruits and vegetables as soon as possible or within 2 hours.
•    Store fruits and vegetables away from raw meat, poultry, and seafood. 
For more information on Cyclospora, visit https://www.cdc.gov/parasites/
For more information on this outbreak, visit this link here.

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The District of Columbia Department of Health promotes health, wellness and equity, across the District, and protects the safety of residents, visitors and those doing business in our nation’s capital.
 

For more information, contact Dr. Kimberly Henderson at [email protected]