A suspected norovirus outbreak has been implicated in an gastrointestinal illness outbreak on board the Princess Cruises’ Coral Princess, according to federal health officials.
The 10-day long voyage arrived in Fort Lauderdale Saturday and according to the CDC, 157 of the 2,016 (7.79%) passengers and 25 of the 881 (2.84 %) crew were sickened presenting the symptoms of vomiting and diarrhea.
In response to the outbreak, Princess 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.
A CDC Vessel Sanitation Program environmental health officer boarded the ship in Ft. Lauderdale on March 18 to conduct an environmental health assessment and evaluate the outbreak and response activities.
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.