Officials: 180 reports of illness following Chincoteague event

Photo Courtesy: Virginia Department of Health/Twitter

CHINCOTEAGUE, Va. (WAVY) — Health officials in Accomack County say they have received 180 reports of illness following a recent event in Chincoteague.

An investigation was launched earlier this month into a cluster of gastro-intestinal illnesses that were believed to be related to the Chincoteague Chili Chowder Cook Off held Sept. 30.

A lab in Richmond first identified Salmonella javiana in samples from event attendees, health officials say.

Salmonella was later identified in a sample of Crab Shack Clam Chowder that was obtained from someone who was served during the event.

Health officials collected 500 responses in 18 days from people who were ill and not ill from the event. An online survey has now closed.

Half of the 180 people who did report ill sought medical care, while 36 went to the emergency room. Another 18 reported being hospitalized for one or more nights.

On Friday, 10 On Your Side spoke with Cindy Lakanal, whose husband was among those hospitalized with Salmonella.

“In all our married life, he was never so sick,” she said.

Lakanal, of Pennsylvania, also fell ill, but recovered in about 48 hours. Her husband was sick for a week, having consumed more of the clam chowder than she did.

“I said to my husband at the festival, ‘the temperature of this is lukewarm, I think it should be hotter,’ but little did I even think that there could possibly be something the matter with it.”

Lakanal said that the Crab Shack is her favorite restaurant on the island. Her husband doesn’t plan to return but she does.

“Everything’s always good there,” she said. “It could happen anywhere.”

10 On Your Side phoned and later visited the Chincoteague restaurant on Friday. We were told that the owners were not there to comment.

Health officials told 10 On Your Side that the owners have not been given any health violations and are cooperating with investigators to determine what went wrong, and to ensure it doesn’t occur again.

The number of reported illnesses is preliminary and could change, officials say. An investigation into the outbreak is ongoing. No deaths have been reported.

More information about Salmonella can be found at this link.