Janette Rodrigues of The Virginian-Pilot reports that of 40 children and four adults from southeastern Virginia and North Carolina that were on an educational trip to Australia, 14 students and two leaders fell violently ill with salmonella poisoning and had to be hospitalized.

Health officials in Australia think members of the group ate contaminated food, said Bill Bland, vice president of youth programs for the organization, which is based in Spokane, Washington. The source of the outbreak is still under investigation.

The first child fell ill Thursday with what Australian health officials have confirmed is a type of salmonella , a sometimes fatal infection that causes diarrhea, vomiting, fever, abdominal cramps, dehydration and headaches. During a three- to four-day period more from the group became sick.

In all, 27 members of the group had symptoms of food poisoning.As of Tuesday afternoon , three children and an adult were still hospitalized.