SANTA MONICA—A stomach virus infected dozens of Santa Monica’s Vikings Youth Football and Cheer over the Thanksgiving weekend at a tournament inLas Vegas, sending 18 to the hospital with flu-like symptoms.

The teams left Wednesday, November 27 for the National Youth Football Western Division Championship post-season tournament headquartered at the Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. As the four-day tournament kicked off, dozens of Santa Monica Vikings Youth Football and Cheer members and parents quickly fell ill, with five adults and 13 Santa Monica players between the ages of seven and nine were transported to the nearby hospital by casino shuttles on November 29.

The Santa Monica youth teams asked to keep “thoughts and prayers for our Vikings” who were experiencing flu-like symptoms from an unknown virus at the time via their Facebook page. The hospital patients were reportedly treated on Friday for symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.

Tournament spokesman Justin Gates told various media outlets an estimated 90 to 100 people at the tournament caught the contagious illness over the weekend, with 40 of those cases being people from Santa Monica teams.

After arriving back home on December 1, the Vikings Youth Football and Cheer stated via Facebook, “Contrary to what the Media says the Santa Monica Vikings Youth Football and Cheer did not bring the Virus to the Rio Hotel, Las Vegas.” The local youth teams attest that not everyone who became sick was staying at the Rio Hotel, but that all tournament goers had to come into contact with the Rio because it was where the tournament was held. The Vikings ask those affected by the illness to contact the team.

“Even though we’re affected heavily by this virus, all of our parents and players banded together and pulled through as a family on every level and helped each other out,” the team’s post concluded.

Canyon News spoke with a representative from the Southern Nevada Health District who said they had “received lab confirmations that those transported, treated and released from the hospital had the norovirus.” The spokeswoman said the norovirus, commonly known as the stomach flu, is a food and water borne illness that can also be passed along by person-to-person contact.

“So it could be the case that someone came to the tournament with the illness and spread it,” the health official said.

The spokeswoman said Southern Nevada Health District investigators are asking those infected to fill out a survey of their symptoms in order to try to see if there was a common source. Health officials haven’t released any official numbers yet because the investigation is ongoing, and investigators must first define the cause and then see how many cases meet that definition, the representative explained.

People with the norovirus are often dehydrated, so health officials recommend they stay hydrated. The sickness “should be resolved in a couple of days,” the health official stated.

According to Mayo Clinic, the highly contagious norovirus infection is a gastrointestinal illness common in “closed and crowded environments” that typically causes diarrhea, abdominal pain and vomiting within 24 to 48 hours of exposure. The illness resolves itself within a few days, but severe dehydration may require medical attention, especially for infants, the sick or elderly.

The medical website states, “Noroviruses commonly spread through food or water contaminated by fecal matter during preparation” and can also be acquired “through close contact with an infected person.”