The LPGA confirmed previous reports that golfer Natalie Gulbis contracted malaria during the Tour's Asian swing.
While playing in Singapore two weeks ago, Gulbis withdrew with what the Tour reported was flu-like symptoms. At the time Bruce Harmon, Gulbis' instructor, tweeted that both she and South Korean golfer Se Ri Pak, who also withdrew from the tournament before it began, were in the hospital with malaria. The LPGA responded by saying that Pak did not have malaria and that a diagnosis on Gulbis had yet to confirm what Harmon had tweeted. Gulbis' agent also disputed the malaria claim at the time.
"Natalie continues to be treated at home and is expected to be at full strength in three weeks," read a statement released by the Tour and IMG, which represents Gulbis, on Wednesday. "Natalie’s well-being is a top priority for both the LPGA and IMG, and steps continue to be taken to ensure the well-being of Natalie and all the players on the LPGA Tour now and for future events. LPGA doctors have been consulted and believe she is on appropriate medications, under great care, and her prognosis is excellent."
Gulbis has withdrawn from this week's RR Donnelley Founders Cup event in Arizona and has set her sights on returning in time for the LPGA's first major of the season, the Kraft Nabisco Championship scheduled for the first week of April.
"I am bummed to not be able to play this weeks LPGA Event in Arizona and appreciate all the sweet comments on Twitter from everyone," Gulbis tweeted.
Malaria is caused by a parasite that is passed from one human to another by the bite of infected mosquitoes. It produces high fevers, shaking chills, flu-like symptoms, and anemia. The Centers for Disease Control estimates that there are 300-to-500 million cases of malaria each year, and more than 1-million people die from it.