PETALUMA (BCN) – A norovirus outbreak that sickened 75 students and adults at Walker Creek Ranch last week has been traced to a student who was exposed to the virus before arriving at the west Marin County outdoor education school.

The student believed to be the source of the virus was ill the day before arriving at the camp, Marin County Deputy Public Health Officer Dr.  Anju Goel said.

Fourteen students and two adults became ill at the camp on Wednesday afternoon and by late evening, 50 people had the virus, which causes vomiting, diarrhea and stomach pain.

Goel said the water is safe at Walker Creek Ranch, located at 1700 Marshall-Petaluma Road, about 14 miles from Petaluma.

The food services department at Walker Creek Ranch was inspected and cleared by the county’s Environmental Health Services, Goel said.

Five of the eight students’ stool samples that were tested came back positive for norovirus, Goel said.

The virus spreads easily when someone does not thoroughly wash their hands after using the bathroom and touches another person. It can also be transmitted by inhaling the air near someone who is vomiting, Goel said.

The camp is closed this week but Goel said she believes it is safe for students to return to the outdoor school.

“As no connection was found between this outbreak and the food preparation, water and physical environment at the ranch, all scheduled programs and events may resume normal operation,” Goel said.

(© 2010 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Bay City News contributed to this report.)

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