Ocean City Today

More than 160 sickened at Fager’s Island

State, county health depts. continue testing to learn cause of nausea, vomiting
By Brian Gilliland | Nov 16, 2017
Photo by: File photo From the 2015 event

(Nov. 17, 2017) Testing continues to identify the cause of a gastroenteritis outbreak affecting 164 attendees of Fager Island’s annual “Shell Shocked” beer and oyster festival on Nov. 4.

The Worcester County Health Department and the Maryland Health Department are coordinating efforts to investigate the illness’ cause. According to a health department spokeswoman, Worcester County Environmental Health staff was onsite the following Saturday, Nov. 11, 2017 to conduct a facility check and to ensure employees who were ill were excluded from working the event.

“At this time, we have not received any reports of illness from the Nov. 11, 2017 event,” Brittany Fowler, deputy director of communications for the Maryland Health Department, said in an e-mail.

Fager’s has made clear that it is cooperating with all aspects of the investigation.

“We are working with the health department to determine the cause of last week’s incident, and I can’t speculate on the cause until they arrive at their conclusions. We welcomed their assistance and presence at Saturday’s event, and I assure any attendees or concerned patrons that all regulations have been and will be followed to ensure the proper food safety,” Kevin Myers, general manager of Fager’s Island, said.

According to WebMD, gastroenteritis occurs when a person’s stomach and intestines are inflamed, likely because of bacterial or viral infection. Symptoms include stomach pain, cramping, fever, nausea and headache, as well as diarrhea and vomiting. Dehydration, caused by the symptoms, is also a concern.

“Fager’s Island has been in business for over 40 years and we are extremely proud of our reputation for our service and the quality of our dining experience. We have a deep appreciation for our loyal customer base, and strive always to ensure that all of our customers have the best experience possible at the island,” Myers said.

Gastroenteritis is commonly called the stomach flu, and is usually caused by the rotavirus or norovirus. Treatment does not typically include medication.

Unrelated to the Fager’s Island situation, apparently, was an outbreak of salmonella poisoning at a Chincoteague, Virginia event in late September. About 180 cases of Salmonella poisoning were confirmed by the Accomack County Health Department, which traced the illness to clam chowder offered during a chili and chowder cook-off.


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