Visitors came down with norovirus last week at Alisal Guest Ranch after an outbreak closed the resort the week before, wrote Public Health spokesperson Susan Klein-Rothschild in an email. The Santa Ynez resort and Public Health were jointly monitoring the situation closely, she said, and the hotel is closed until the end of the week for further inspection and cleaning. She said two Public Health specialists are visiting the ranch to advise management, and that Alisal has hired an outside contractor to do intensive cleaning with EPA-approved cleansers for norovirus.

Norovirus causes severe stomach cramps accompanied by vomiting and diarrhea, reported the National Geographic in a 2013 article, both of which spread the virus widely, including through the air. It is named after a 1968 outbreak at a school in Norwalk, Ohio. The Centers for Disease Control has an entire protocol for cruise ships, a frequent location of noroviral outbreaks, which includes cleaning with diluted bleach and EPA-approved cleansers. Norovirus can remain on objects for days or weeks, CDC reported, and people can remain contagious for three days after they seem to have recovered.

A research study at Emory University on the longevity of norovirus discovered the virus remained intact in water that had been stored 1,266 days, or for more than three years. The study, published in Applied and Environmental Microbiology in 2011, actually fed the contaminated water to 13 subjects up to 61 days after the virus had initially been added. The scientists mercifully stopped testing at that point with a 100 percent illness rate, according to Scientific American.


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