Office Health Update: Dealing With the Recent Cyclospora Outbreak

This past month, a nasty outbreak of Cyclospora has been sweeping across the United States. The intestinal parasite has been linked to consumption of fresh produce contaminated with feces and other bacteria. Common intestinal infection symptoms show up within a week of exposure and can include diarrhea, loss of appetite, bloating, and fatigue. With the CDC reporting 372 cases in 16 states as of July 29, health precautions should be taken seriously across the country and within your company.

It’s easy to become lax on healthy practices when it’s not flu season, but you never know when a health threat can pop up, even in the summer. Health practices shouldn’t vary by season, especially in a business world where sick days come at the cost of productivity.

Luckily, the CDC has provided some easy guidelines to follow in order to help reduce the risk of contracting the Cyclospora parasite. Here are some tips from the CDC, as well some of our recommended considerations to keep your employees and business healthy moving forward:

Keep your employees informed.

It is important that your employees are aware of the possibility the contamination could be present in your workplace. This communication can take the form of a simple email to your employees, a notification posted in the break-room or office kitchen, or a post in your company’s social network.

Make sure your lunch-time salad is thoroughly washed.

The CDC is recommending that all fresh produce is thoroughly washed (not just rinsed) before consumption. While they haven’t confirmed the exact sources or distributors responsible for the contamination, you can significantly reduce your risk of exposure to Cyclospora by taking an extra few minutes to wash your fruits and vegetables. Try this course for more information on proper food handling techniques:

Basic Food Hygiene Training
Provider: SafetyTrain Ltd
Seat time: 6 minutes

Need we mention, wash your hands!

We’ve learned this from when we were very young, but the principle still holds strong. CDC has made it clear that you should always remember to thoroughly wash your hands before and after handling food and produce. Try this course for more information on proper hand washing techniques: 

Handwashing and Hygiene
Provider: Convergence
Seat time: 15 minutes 

Evaluate your company policy on sick leave.

What is your policy for employees that need to take time off for sickness? Many companies are adopting PTO programs for employees that need to take sick leave. These policies have proven popular amongst employees and can improve morale because employees know they are covered in case they have to take some time off. Try this course for guidance on crafting a PTO policy that takes into account sick leave:

Successful PTO Programs
Provider: Lorman-OnDemand
Seat time: 1 hour 30 minutes

Whether it is an intestinal parasite like Cyclospora, the seasonal flu or just a runny nose, it is important to maintain good health practices year-round.

Image Credit: Jay Davis via Flickr