HARFORD COUNTY, Md. (WJZ)—A spike in gastrointestinal illness may be linked to local restaurants in Harford County. Dozens of people have gotten sick.

Christie Ileto reports health officials are trying to pinpoint the cause.

An outbreak of stomach bugs in Harford County has the health department investigating.

Officials say more than a dozen people reportedly became ill after having eaten at one or more area restaurants.

“We received calls from individuals who had eaten at several restaurants in the area who were complaining of GI symptoms,” said William Wiseman, Harford County Health Department spokesperson.

Those symptoms include sharp shooting stomach pains, nausea and violent vomiting.

The health department says lab tests are being done to determine what type of organism they’re dealing with and if it’s comparable to what can sometimes be found on cruise ships.

While the health department won’t give details about the source of the virus or restaurant in question, it does have some Harford County residents concerned.

“Yeah, I’m concerned about it because I might eat there or some of my family might eat there,” said Robert Wilson Sr.

“This is when the virus is the most active, and people are starting to come into contact with each other,” said Dr. Melissa Denham, Patient First.

Late winter to early spring is the peak time.

Denham says Patient First in Towson has seen a rise in people with stomach flu symptoms.

“We’re seeing about five to 10 a day, which is about 10 percent of our patients,” said Denham.

According to the CDC, between 56,000 to 71,000 people are hospitalized every year with this stomach bug. Almost 800 of them die.

In the meantime, health officials are asking residents to do their part. Wash their hands and prevent the spread of the virus.

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