Maryland health officials said Friday they are investigating an outbreak of the stomach flu among attendees of a Maryland food festival.
Officials say 145 reported cases of the illness could be connected to the outbreak, which occurred at the Shell Shocked beer and oyster festival at Fager's Island Restaurant in Ocean City, Maryland, on Nov. 4.
Attendees from Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware reported symptoms of what state health officials believe may be gastroenteritis, said Brittany Fowler, Maryland Department of Health deputy director of communications. There have been no hospitalizations, Fowler said.
Gastroenteritis, also commonly referred to as the stomach flu, is an intestinal infection marked by diarrhea, cramps, nausea, vomiting and fever, according to WebMD.
A second installment of Shell Shocked will be held Saturday. This is the restaurant's ninth year of hosting the festival.
Worcester County Environmental Health staff will be onsite Saturday to conduct a facility check and ensure employees who are ill or have been ill in the last 48 hours are excluded from working, according to Fowler.
"We welcome their assistance and presence at Saturday’s event," said Fager's Island General Manager Kevin Myers. "I assure any attendees or concerned patrons that all regulations have been and will be followed to ensure the proper food safety."
In an email Friday, Myers pointed to the restaurant's reputation spanning more than 40 years in Ocean City, and said they are currently working with the health department to determine the cause of last week's incident.
The Department's Division of Outbreak Investigation is working with the Worcester County Health Department to examine the incident.
Those who attended last week's festival are encouraged by the state to complete a survey to provide state officials with additional information.
To reduce the risk of spreading the illness to others, anyone feeling ill should not prepare food or provide health care for others, attend school, go to work or attend parties or gatherings for 48 hours after diarrhea and vomiting have stopped, said Fowler.
In late September, a salmonella outbreak rocked the Chincoteague (Virginia) Chowder Cook Off, leaving about 180 attendees from nine different states reporting symptoms of the illness.
A Pennsylvania man in October became the first attendee to file a lawsuit against a Chincoteague business, seeking $500,000 for the tainted chowder.