Health authorities shut down Christian camp after 47 fall ill

Health authorities have shut down and ordered the evacuation of a Christian camp in Yucaipa after 47 people fell ill and 13 were sent to the hospital due to a yet unknown illness on Saturday evening.

A prison inmate eats breakfast at Oak Glen Conservation Fire Camp #35 in Yucaipa, California November 6, 2014. | REUTERS / Lucy Nicholson

In an interview with NBC4, Connecting Point Community Church youth pastor Jared Ellis said the incident happened over dinner at the Oak Glen Christian Conference Center. He said all the people who fell ill exhibited similar symptoms, but his group was the only one that was hospitalized.

"Camp was great. We had a small sickness start to spread with some stomach issues," Pastor Ellis told NBC4. "We had a few people go down with it, with vomiting."

As of Sunday, the 13 people admitted to the hospital were already released. Nevertheless, the campgrounds have been shut down as the San Bernardino County Department of Public Health investigates the place to determine the cause of the medical emergency.

Jennifer Osorio, the Health Department's Division of Environmental Health Services program manager, said they still have not made a conclusion in relation to the investigation. She said they will closely examine the food service at the retreat center, including the menu and the method of food preparation and service, Redlands Daily Facts reports.

"At this time all the information we have is preliminary. We've have not made any determination as to the cause," said Osorio. "We will be looking at all of the food service, including how food was prepared, what was on the menu, how food was dispensed to people."

Based on the conference center's list, the dinner menu included roasted herb chicken, rice pilaf, green beans, homemade chocolate chip cookies, and a fresh salad bar.

Aside from inspecting food-preparation areas and taking a closer look at how the food was served, the Health Department said it will investigate the housing to look for anything that could have caused the illness. The team's epidemiologists also said they will interview the patients to determine if anyone was already sick before they arrived or if they acquired an illness during the course of their stay there.

Inside Christian Daily