Dozens of people got sick after attending a Round Rock High School baseball team banquet Monday evening, the Round Rock Independent School District said.
Round Rock ISD spokeswoman Jenny LaCoste-Caputo says names of all who fell ill are still being collected, but more than 100 people developed gastrointestinal issues after the event. Approximately 200 people were in attendance.
Officials say the event was held at The Milestone, an event center in Round Rock, and was catered by La Margarita of Round Rock. Parents say banquet attendees were served fajitas from La Margarita and cake and cookies, which did not come from the restaurant.
“We use a wide variety of vendors at events like this that are all well-vetted, but, unfortunately, it’s a situation that you can’t really see coming or plan for, so we are deeply sorry that this happened,” LaCoste-Caputo said.
About half of the baseball team is affected. Head Coach John Carter says 12 varsity players and 12 JV players are ill. This comes right before the team’s playoff game at Dell Diamond, scheduled for Thursday.
Carter says he began receiving calls and texts about students and their parents falling ill Tuesday night, growing to at least 114 people. His wife, who was at the event, also became very sick Tuesday night, he says.
“And then this morning, about 5 a.m. I got four or five more,” Carter said, “And before I know it, I’ve got people saying they’re sick and getting a call from my starting pitcher tomorrow night saying he’s home sick. I said this is not a coincidence. Something’s not right here.”
Carter says players, two assistant coaches and their guests are complaining of vomiting, diarrhea, cramping and body aches. He says many who were at the banquet fell ill approximately 24 hours after eating.
Carter says some JV players will likely step in at Thursday’s game, and some who got sick but have been recovering may still play.
“They’re going to give it their best stuff, but I’m not going to let them do it to where it could be a health issue for them,” he said, adding it’s a lesson in perseverance and teamwork. “We want to try and take as much emphasis off this and worrying about this and play the game the way we’re capable of playing.”
A spokesperson for the Williamson County and Cities Health District confirms an investigation is underway into what might have caused the outbreak. Health officials are currently gathering names and contact information of people who fell ill after the banquet.
WCCHD can’t confirm that food poisoning is the cause at this time. The agency says this case may take longer to investigate than others because those involved didn’t get sick after eating at a particular restaurant.
Investigators must look into the catering service and the event center where the food was served. Health officials don’t expect to have many answers until later in the week.
A spokesperson at The Milestone told KXAN its staff works hard to keep spaces, including the prep kitchen, clean.
A manager for La Margarita says the restaurant worked with the health district to inspect its kitchen Tuesday. The manager says many have been questioning whether the lettuce on the fajitas served could have made people sick.
He says La Margarita traced its lettuce back to the source and can confirm it did not receive any contaminated lettuce from Arizona.
The manager also says his restaurant caters on a weekly basis and has never had an issue with a large group getting food poisoning. He says his staff followed proper procedure in preparing the food that was served to the baseball team Monday.
This is the second year La Margarita has catered for the team’s banquet, according to the manager.