The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Vessel Sanitation Program (VSP) is reporting a norovirus outbreak onboard Princess Cruise lines ship, Star Princess today. Specimens have been collected and tested onboard using a norovirus rapid test; results were positive for norovirus. The specimens will be sent to CDC for additional testing.
The more than two week voyage will end on May 14 in San Francisco.
138 of 2,597 passengers onboard (5.31%) and 18 of 1,094 Star Princess crew members (1.65%) have been sickened with the gastrointestinal virus.
In response to the outbreak, Princess Cruises and the crew aboard the ship reported the following actions: increasing cleaning and disinfection procedures according to their outbreak prevention and response plan; making announcements to notify onboard passengers and crew of the outbreak, encourage case reporting, and encourage good hand hygiene; collected stool specimens from passenger and crew gastrointestinal illness cases for testing by CDC; making twice daily reports of gastrointestinal illness cases to the VSP; sending corporate environmental health manager to assist the onboard management with infection control response plan and is consulting with CDC on plans for their comprehensive sanitation procedures in San Francisco, CA on May 14, 2015.
Norovirus is a very contagious virus. You can get norovirus from an infected person, from contaminated food or water, or by touching contaminated surfaces. The virus causes your stomach or intestines or both to get inflamed (acute gastroenteritis). This leads you to have stomach pain, nausea, and diarrhea and to throw up.
Why are noroviruses associated with cruise ships? According to the CDC, health officials track illness on cruise ships. So outbreaks are found and reported more quickly on a cruise ship than on land; close living quarters may increase the amount of group contact and people joining the ship may bring the virus to other passengers and crew.