Norovirus linked to Straight Down Fall Classic golf tournament in SLO

The Straight Down Fall Classic golf tournament, the annual tournament featuring professional golfers at the San Luis Obispo Country Club, encountered two unwelcome developments this year: rain and “winter vomiting bug.”

Rain fell on the two-day tournament’s closing day, Nov. 15, and visitors reported feeling sick with what San Luis Obispo County Health Department officials suspect was a norovirus outbreak.

The health department issued a questionnaire to those who might have contracted the virus, also known as the winter vomiting bug, seeking to learn more about what happened. About 30 to 35 people who attended the event reported feeling ill, said Mike Stanton, the country club’s general manager.

County health officials could not be reached Friday.

It could have come from anyone who walked through the front door.

Mike Stanton, San Luis Obispo Country Club general manager

Norovirus is a highly contagious virus causing stomach or intestinal inflammation. Symptoms can include stomach pain, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Most people recover after one to three days.

Norovirus can be transmitted by eating food or drinking liquids contaminated with the virus, touching surfaces or objects with the virus and then touching one’s mouth, and also having contact with someone who’s infected, according to the CDC.

Stanton said that he didn’t know how it was spread at the country club.

“We have no way of knowing, and we’re not virus experts,” Stanton said. “We contacted the health department and followed all of the protocols. It could have come from anyone who walked through the front door.”

Stanton said the club first learned of people getting sick on Nov. 15, the last day of the tournament. He said one of the golfers dropped out because he became ill.

The county health department’s questionnaire cited reports of visitors of the club becoming ill between Nov. 12 to 15. The weekend golf tournament, hosted by Straight Down Clothing Company, took place from Nov. 14 to 15.

The questionnaire asked several questions related to when the person got sick, including whether they ate breakfast, lunch or dinner at the event and what symptoms they experienced.

The form asked whether the person who visited the club had symptoms such as stomach cramps, nausea, headaches, fatigue, vomiting and diarrhea.

Stanton said the club has changed some protocol, including keeping sick workers at home longer before allowing them to return to work. However, he said, there might have been no way of knowing whether somebody had the illness before it spread.

“We’re doing everything the health department has suggested,” Stanton said.