Federal health officials are reporting a norovirus outbreak on the current voyage of Oceania Cruises vessel, Oceania Riviera.
Eighty-two passengers and crew have been sickened with the gastrointestinal bug, norovirus. Specimens have been collected and tested onboard using a norovirus rapid test.
This is the second cruise ship outbreak investigated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Vessel Sanitation Program (VSP) in 2016.
The voyage dates are from Feb. 12 to Feb. 22. A CDC Vessel Sanitation Program environmental health officer and an epidemiologist are currently making plans to board the ship upon arrival in Miami, FL to conduct an environmental health assessment and evaluate the outbreak and response activities.
In response to the outbreak, Oceania Cruises and the crew aboard the ship reported the following actions: Increased cleaning and disinfection procedures according to their outbreak prevention and response plan, collected stool specimens from passenger and crew gastrointestinal illness cases for testing and made twice daily reports of gastrointestinal illness cases to the Vessel Sanitation Program.
Norovirus is a highly contagious viral illness that often goes by other names, such as viral gastroenteritis, stomach flu, and food poisoning.
The symptoms include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and some stomach cramping. Sometimes people additionally have a low-grade fever, chills,headache, muscle aches, and a general sense of tiredness. The illness often begins suddenly, and the infected person may feel very sick. In most people, the illness is self-limiting with symptoms lasting for about 1 or 2 days. In general, children experience more vomiting than adults do.
Norovirus is spread person to person particularly in crowded, closed places. Norovirus is typically spread through contaminated food and water, touching surfaces or objects contaminated with norovirus and then putting your hand or fingers in your mouth and close contact with someone who is vomiting or has diarrhea.
Norovirus causes more than 20 million illnesses annually in the US, and it is the leading cause of gastroenteritis outbreaks in the United States.