Patrons, staff, volunteers and artists at the Mad Tea Party jam have reported a multitude of illnesses over the weekend. Many attendees of the three day event reported sickness through social media that prevented performances and sent several people to the hospital. The festival was held at the Four Quarters Interfaith Sanctuary in Artemis, Pa.
Mad Tea Party released a statement via their Facebook Page on Sunday evening.
Despite our best efforts to maintain the health safety of our patrons, people were falling ill. We ourselves are seeking any and all answers. The Pennsylvania Center of Epidemiology has been contacted by the venue in order to properly ascertain what has happened this past weekend. In order to better understand and identify the issue and better yet, how to fix this issue, we are openly asking people to report their own health issues to the Pennsylvania board of health. Please call this number in order to aid us. 1-877-PA HEALTH
We will be posting more information as it is received.
Headliner Papadosio was forced to cancel their third and final performance of the weekend which was scheduled for Saturday night. Three of the band’s five members were reportedly too ill to perform.
Ona Hogarty of Bedford, PA was taken to the emergency room at War Memorial Hospital in Berkley Springs, PA. She reported to NYS Music that doctors there gave her a dysentery diagnosis. She said doctors noted that dysentery is often given as a broad term diagnosis to stomach viruses accompanied by bloody stools. Hogarty is awaiting test results to further explain her illness.
Online accounts point to a potential Norovirus outbreak. Although the symptoms match reports from sick attendees, NYS Music has been unable to confirm the official cause of the weekend’s illnesses. Symptoms were reported as early as Friday morning. Norovirus is often the cause of mass outbreaks in nursing homes, cruise ships and daycare centers.
A similar situation was reported at last weekend’s WickerMan Burn. A pinned post on the WickerMan Burn Facebook group early Sunday morning, dated June 16, read:
The organization team and the 4QF board of directors are sympathetic and full of compassion for those who got sick after WickerMan. You have all already heard that we test the water and septic systems, that we bleached everything we could as often as we could, and that some number of people still got sick. We can’t go back into the event and change the fact that a highly contagious illness got passed around.
However, by Sunday evening, the post was updated with the above text deleted. Only an explanation about norovirus and stomach bugs remained from the original post. Several post in the group were made, questioning the link between the illnesses over the two different weekends.
Although the venue has signs posted about norovirus prevention at the showers, the venue offered no other warning about potential issues from the previous weekend.
While the organizers of Mad Tea Party Jam have been open with its patrons, Four Quarter’s has been silent about the situation. Over the past two days, long-time attendees of the grounds are commenting on their positive experiences in vast numbers, which has some of the sick attendees crying fowl. Brooke Lown of Richmond, Va, who became ill early Saturday morning told NYS Music, “It’s really upsetting and makes me feel like we are going to have to try hard for this to be taken seriously and be addressed. They are all trying to play it off like we don’t have personal hygiene and are just some dirty hippies who are always bound to get this sick at fests.”
This story is developing and NYS Music will bring you the latest developments. Request for comments from Mad Tea Party Jam and Four Quarters Interfaith Sanctuary are pending. The Pennsylvania Department of Health is working to provide accurate data on the total number of cases reported, both over the weekend and throughout the venue’s history.