- The Washington Times - Monday, August 9, 2004

At least 90 high schools students from across the country attending a leadership conference at the University of Maryland at College Park were hospitalized last night with possible cases of food poisoning.

They complained of nausea and were taken to hospitals in vans starting at about 8 o’clock last night.

Most of the patients were being treated at Doctors Community Hospital in Lanham, a hospital spokeswoman said. Others were taken to Washington Adventist Hospital, university officials said.

The source of the potentially tainted food was not clear, a spokesman for the university said.

They had eaten turkey and taco box lunches, though it was not clear whether the food came from campus food services. The students also took a trip to Baltimore yesterday afternoon, and they may have eaten something there.

Dominic Vittel, 13, of Burke, said some of the students in the group, including his older sister, felt ill as early as yesterday morning. He was there with his family to see his sister.

D.C. resident Ralph Alexander, 46, who works in the radiology department at Doctors Community Hospital, told The Washington Times that as the students began coming in by the busload, the hospital enacted a disaster plan, set up an extra triage area and doubled up patients in rooms.

He said the students were suffering from abdominal cramps, vomiting and diarrhea.

“They’re in excruciating pain,” he said.

Hospital officials say some students will be held overnight. The Prince George’s County Health Department was investigating.

One man said he waited for five hours to be treated for a twisted ankle, but eventually gave up because the influx of students had overwhelmed the emergency room.

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