Hajj and Umrah in Saudi Arabia

The annual Hajj, or pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia, is among the largest mass gatherings in the world. In 2017, Hajj will take place from approximately August 30 to September 4. Umrah is a similar pilgrimage that can be undertaken at any time of the year, but is likely to be more crowded during the month of Ramadan (approximately May 27 to June 24).

Because of the crowds, mass gatherings such as Hajj and Umrah are associated with unique health risks. Before you go, you should visit a travel health specialist for advice, make sure you are up to date on all routine and recommended vaccines, and learn about other health and safety issues that could affect you during your trip.

CDC: Increase in Reported cases of Cyclospora cayetanensis Infection, United States, Summer 2017

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), State and Local Health Departments, and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are investigating an increase in reported cases of cyclosporiasis. The purpose of this HAN Advisory is to notify public health departments and healthcare facilities and to provide guidance to healthcare providers of the increase in reported cases. Please disseminate this information to healthcare providers in hospitals and emergency rooms, to primary care providers, and to microbiology laboratories.

Healthcare providers should consider a diagnosis of cyclosporiasis in patients with prolonged or remitting-relapsing diarrheal illness. Testing for Cyclospora is not routinely done in most U.S. laboratories, even when stool is tested for parasites. Healthcare providers must specifically order testing for Cyclospora, whether testing is requested by ova and parasite (O&P) examination, by molecular methods, or by a gastrointestinal pathogen panel test. Cyclosporiasis is a nationally notifiable disease; healthcare providers should report suspect and confirmed cases of infection to public health authorities.

Learn more

FDA Investigates Multiple Salmonella Outbreak Strains Linked to Papayas

The FDA is advising consumers not to eat Caribeña brand Maradol papayas because they are linked to an outbreak of salmonellosis. Maradol papayas are green before they ripen and turn yellow, so consumers should not eat Caribeña brand regardless of the color. If anyone has these papayas in their home, they should dispose of them immediately. CDC reports 141 cases, 45 hospitalizations and one death from 19 states in the Salmonella Kiambu and Salmonella Thompson outbreak . The states involved are CT, DE, IA, IL, KY, LA, MA, MD, MI, MN, NC, NJ, NY, OH, OK, PA, TX, VA, and WI.

For updated information on this outbreak and associated recalls, please visit VDH’s Food Recalls webpage.

Pertussis (Whooping Cough)

Pertussis is a very contagious disease characterized by severe coughing and caused by the bacteria Bordetella pertussis. Among vaccine-preventable diseases, pertussis is one of the most commonly occurring in the United States. The disease can be very serious in children less than 1 year of age when it can cause lung infections and, less often, seizures or inflammation of the brain. In rare cases, pertussis can result in death in children less than 1 year of age. Read the Pertussis FAQ.

CDC: Patients Receiving Eculizumab (Soliris®) at High Risk for Invasive Meningococcal Disease Despite Vaccination

Eculizumab (Soliris®) recipients have a 1,000 to 2,000-fold greater risk of invasive meningococcal disease compared to the general U.S. population. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved prescribing information for eculizumab includes a black box warning for increased risk of meningococcal disease, and the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommends meningococcal vaccination for all patients receiving eculizumab. Recent data show that some patients receiving eculizumab who were vaccinated with the recommended meningococcal vaccines still developed meningococcal disease, most often from nongroupable Neisseria meningitidis, which rarely causes invasive disease in healthy individuals. Learn more

Fire and EMS Memorial Week

As proclaimed by Governor McAuliffe, Fire and EMS Memorial Week is June 4-10, 2017. This event, in conjunction with the Annual Virginia Fallen Firefighters and EMS Memorial Service, honors fire and EMS providers who died in the line of duty. It also recognizes those who risk their lives daily to serve and protect the citizens of the Commonwealth. Read the Governor’s proclamation. Learn more about the Annual Virginia Fallen Firefighters and EMS Memorial Service, which will be held June 3 at 12 p.m. at the Richmond International Raceway’s Main Exhibition Hall.