norovirus0301_468x358.jpgThe Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that noroviruses cause nearly 21 million cases of acute gastroenteritis annually, making noroviruses the leading cause of gastroenteritis in adults in the United States. So it should come as no surprise that, according to press reports, the highly contagious stomach virus that sickened more than a dozen guests, visitors and employees of the Alisal Guest Ranch in the Santa Ynez Valley has been confirmed as norovirus by the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department.

County health officials have been investigating the outbreak since it was reported by visitors, who developed food poison-like systems after an event at the ranch on June 23.

Investigators still won’t say exactly how many people have been affected, but earlier this week that more than a dozen cases had been reported.

She said the health department doesn’t know of anyone who became ill with norovirus after Sunday, although many people were still reporting cases after the fact this week.

Norovirus spreads easily in close quarters from an infected person, contaminated food or water or when someone touches contaminated surfaces.