CLEVELAND — Water samples taken from Hopkins Airport water fountains will be tested as Cleveland health officials investigate what caused several passengers on a New Year’s Day flight to Tampa to become sick.
According to a statement from the City of Cleveland, the Cleveland Department of Public Health (CDPH) is contacting each of the six affected passengers to learn more about their actions before the flight.
The passengers, who were not traveling together, experienced symptoms including nausea while on board the Frontier Airlines Flight 1397 Tuesday afternoon.
Frontier reported that each passenger may have drank from the same airport water fountain before the flight, according to the city statement, prompting airport staff to immediately turn off and sanitize all fountains in Concourse A.
“CDPH, Cleveland Water and CLE airport staff are working collaboratively to investigate all potential causes, including passenger activities before arriving at the airport,” the city statement said. “Based on our expertise, water borne illnesses generally have a longer incubation period than what we saw in this instance. Also, Cleveland Water has no known water safety issues in the vicinity of CLE, but is collecting additional street-level samples to verify.”
Passengers were kept on the plane for about an hour as first responders boarded and tended to the sick before everyone was later released.
“They were just coming out up of nowhere, just throwing up, sick, throwing up, like in every different aisle,” said passenger Tiffany McKinney. “It was nasty.”
The City of Cleveland said water samples from the airport will be sent to an Ohio EPA-certified lab for testing, with results expected in 24 to 48 hours.
It said there were no other reported illnesses among more than 11,000 passengers who traveled through Hopkins on New Year’s Day.
Meanwhile, Spirit Airlines is taking a precautionary measure after the illnesses. The airline released the following statement to FOX 8 News on Wednesday:
“At this point we have no record of any Guests becoming sick from the water situation at Cleveland Hopkins International. Spirit Airlines will not be putting any potable water from the airport on our aircraft until this situation has been resolved.”