At least 164 people have reportedly gotten sick after attending an oyster and beer festival in Maryland.
Attendees of the Nov. 4 festival at Fager’s Island restaurant in Ocean City experienced symptoms of gastroenteritis, or a stomach flu, the Baltimore Sun reports.
The Maryland Department of Health, along with the Worcester County Health Department, is investigating the source of the outbreak. The restaurant was cleared by officials to host a similar event on Saturday, but no simliar cases have been reported from that particular day, according to the Maryland Department of Health.
However, the cause of the initial outbreak has yet to be determined.
Officials were sent to inspect the restaurant prior to the second event, to ensure no one who had been sick within the last two days were working. And one woman, Judy Robertson, told the Sun that she noticed organizers taking additional precautions: e.g., the workers were wearing gloves and doling out silverware, rather than letting attendees get it themselves; the bathrooms were assigned their own cleaning attendants; and festival-goers were given disposal cups instead of commemorative glasses (patrons were instead allowed to take the glasses home).
Kevin Myers, general manager of Fager’s, said in a statement he’s working with health officials to determine the cause of the outbreak. Experts speculate one possibility is vibrio parahaemolyticus, a naturally occurring warm saltwater bacteria associated with shellfish. “The food is one of the most likely places for it to spread because food is a breeding ground for the bacteria,” said Dr. Bruce Y. Lee, an associate professor of international health at Johns Hopkins University, told the Sun.
Gastroenteritis can result in symptoms including nausea, diarrhea, stomach pain and vomiting, among others. State officials have confirmed to the Sun that no deaths had been linked to the event, and no one who attended had required hospitalization.