Iowa City, Ia. — Thirteen unidentified Iowa football players remain hospitalized with a muscle injury syndrome likely triggered by heavy workouts over the past week, university officials said Wednesday at a news conference.
Dr. John Stokes, who is not directly involved with the treatment of the athletes, said the condition, called rhabdomyolysis, is fairly common among football players and that it is typically not career-threatening.
Stokes said, however, that he had never seen as many cases at one time in his 32 years practicing internal medicine at the University of Iowa Hospital and Clinics.
“It does appear to be a little unusual, but apparently the common denominator for each of these individuals had to do with the fact that they were undergoing a workout, a heavy exercise program,” said Stokes, during a gathering at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
Thirteen University of Iowa football players remain hospitalized after becoming ill with what the university says is a little-known muscle syndrome called rhabdomyolysis. Rhabdomyolysis occurs when muscle is destroyed and the pigment in it that makes it red, called myoglobin, gets into the kidneys and can damage them.
At a press conference on Wednesday, a spokesman said it’s unclear how the students developed the condition.
“The causes of rhabdomyolysis are extensive. There may be a hundred different causes for this problem,” said Dr. John Stokes, director of Division of Nephrology at the University of Iowa. He is not involved in the care of the players. “When it occurs in young, otherwise healthy individuals, one of the common scenarios we look for is a recent exercise.”
Stokes said that it’s unusual for so many people with different body types and genetic predispositions to come down with rhabdomyolysis at once. Although it attacks the kidneys, the condition almost always goes away.
“It does appear to be a little unusual, but apparently the common denominator for each of these individuals had to do with the fact that they were undergoing a workout, a heavy exercise program, and heavy exercise is known to produce this syndrome,” he said.
The electronic dance music business, propelled by huge festivals featuring star D.J.’s and psychedelic light shows, has grown to an estimated worth of $4.5 billion, a number that is luring both Wall Street investors and mainstream corporate sponsors. Yet a recent string of drug-related deaths has highlighted the risks not only to fans, but to the businesses looking to profit from the craze.
Since March, at least seven young people attending dance events around the country have died after exhibiting symptoms consistent with overdoses from MDMA and other so-called party drugs, often called ecstasy or molly. This month, the Electric Zoo festival on Randalls Island was shut down at the request of New York City officials after two patrons died, apparently from MDMA overdoses, officials said.
Executives say that deaths like these have the potential to scare off investors and the corporate sponsors that are eager to reach the genre’s young, affluent and technologically connected fans.