Little information available on outbreak among Coachella festival bus drivers

Public health officials continue to investigate what appears to have been an outbreak of foodborne illnesses among bus drivers shuttling the public during the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in California.

At least 100 bus drivers have said they became ill after eating food from a caterer who supplied meals for the drivers but not for the general public. The festival was on April 15-17 and 22-24.

“More than 40 people were taken to three hospitals in the Coachella Valley early Monday (April 25) after they complained of various symptoms, including stomach cramps, dizziness, nausea, and diarrhea, after eating dinner that was catered for employees of a transportation company that provided shuttle service for the Coachella Music Festival,” according to an April 26 statement from Riverside County Public Health. 

“A handful of patients were admitted to hospitals Monday.”

The status of the patients has not been released, but a public health spokesman told Food Safety News this week that test samples from three patients were inconclusive.

Public health officials are still interviewing people who got sick after eating the catered meal, a process that could go on for quite some time. 

The catering operation was inspected by the county’s environmental health department, but no violations were found, Jose Arballo Jr., senior public information specialist told Food Safety News. Arballo did not name the caterer.

“We continue to interview those who attended the dinner – those who got sick and those who did not – and are awaiting testing results on some food samples that were saved by one individual who ate and took some leftovers home.

“We have not been able to determine what caused so many people to become ill but hope the interviews will shed light on what happened.”

Those who attended the dinner, whether they became ill or not, are urged to call a public health representative for an interview at 951-358-5107.

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