A Santa Monica youth football team on Sunday returned home from Las Vegas, where dozens of players, coaches and family members fell ill.
It remained unclear what caused the illness, which reportedly affected more than 100 people. However, some who became sick said Nevada health officials gave them pamphlets about the highly contagious norovirus.
“The virus causes your stomach or intestines or both to get inflamed,” according to the Centers for Disease Control. “This leads you to have stomach pain, nausea, and diarrhea and to throw up.”
Four teams representing the Santa Monica Vikings were in Las Vegas over Thanksgiving weekend for the National Football Championships Tournament. An estimated 7,000 people from across the U.S. attended the event, which was based at the Rio All-Suites Hotel and Casino.
The outbreak was first reported on Friday morning, when 18 people – 13 of them children – were rushed to hospitals after experiencing symptoms including nausea and vomiting.
“It was hard. We won a championship with 16 players, a couple of them throwing up on the field,” said Rashad Westbrooks, a coach and father of one of the players. “Both ends – on the toilet with trash cans. It was rough out there.”
“We think it was food poisoning, because most people got sick after we had Thanksgiving dinner,” said Vikings player Giancarlo Laidley.
No common denominator seemed to exist among those who took ill – they were members of different teams, ate at multiple restaurants and stayed at various hotels.
Southern Nevada Health District officials said an investigation was underway to determine the cause of the outbreak.
Representatives of the Rio Hotel and Caesars Entertainment did not respond to requests for comment.