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Mystery illness sickens 17 at women's NCAA golf tournament at UT

County health officials are investigating how 17 people were sickened by a mysterious illness this week at the women's NCAA golf tournament hosted by the University of Texas. (CBS Austin)

County health officials are investigating how 17 people were sickened by a mysterious illness this week at the women's NCAA golf tournament hosted by the University of Texas.

Signs at the UT Golf Club in west Travis County near Steiner Ranch warn visitors about the illness while encouraging them to frequently wash their hands.

"I just really didn't feel good. I felt like I needed to throw up," recalls Caroline Powers, Michigan State Women's Golf Assistant Coach.

Powers says she experienced excessive vomiting that led to fainting.

"I went and got a couple IVs and by the next day around noon I was back in order -- good to go, but then we go to the golf course and everybody else was hearing this girl went down... this girl went to the hospital this girl went to the ER. It was crazy," Powers says.

East Carolina University Coach Kevin Williams got sick the same day as Powers. He told CBS Austin over the phone that four of his athletes got sick -- three wound up in the emergency room.

"It was very disheartening for them. They worked really hard all year and for it to come down to something like this" Williams says.

ECU's Carley Cox went from the emergency room straight to the course Tuesday, but her team was still disqualified because too many of their athletes were out ill.

"She got an IV as soon as she walked off of the golf course," Williams says.

Two Baylor athletes hospitalized overnight played in the tournament Wednesday. The school tweeted out that Maria Vesga gave it her all but was forced to withdraw after seven holes because of the illness. Baylor will advance to nationals.

What exactly the illness is remains a mystery. "There's not one thing that bound everybody together... so jury's still out on that one," Powers says.

County health officials say they haven't found any common link other than being at the tournament. The players and coaches who became sick ate different foods at different times and from different places, complicating the investigation, county officials say. Investigators are interviewing people about their food history, but no stool samples were collected because many who became ill have already left the state.

A spokesperson for UT Women's Golf said they're confident this was not a food service issue but something viral in nature that quickly spread from person to person. Still, the UT Golf Club underwent a "deep cleaning" Tuesday night, signs were posted warning about the illness and hand sanitizers were spread throughout the property.

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