Federal health officials reported today on a norovirus outbreak onboard Norwegian Cruise Line’s Norwegian Gem 10-day voyage.

135 of the nearly 4,000 passengers and crew on the Norwegian Gem experienced symptoms of vomiting and diarrhea and specimens collected and tested onboard using a norovirus rapid test were positive for the contagious virus.

Norwegian Gem Image/Jim.henderson
Norwegian Gem

In response to the outbreak, Norwegian Cruise Line and the crew aboard the ship reported the following actions to include increased cleaning and disinfection procedures according to their outbreak prevention and response plan, collecting stool specimens from passenger and crew gastrointestinal illness cases for testing and making multiple daily reports of gastrointestinal illness cases to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Vessel Sanitation Program (VSP).

In addition, the cruise ship is consulting with CDC on plans for their comprehensive sanitation procedures in New York City, NY, including planning staged disembarkation for active cases to limit the opportunity of illness transmission to well guests, and planning for sanitation of terminal and transport infection control procedures.

CDC VSP also reported today on an outbreak of gastrointestinal illness of unknown etiology that sickened 37 passengers and crew onboard Silversea Cruises’ Silver Spirit.

Norovirus is a highly contagious viral illness that often goes by other names, such as viral gastroenteritisstomach 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 hasdiarrhea.

Norovirus causes more than 20 million illnesses annually in the US, and it is the leading cause of gastroenteritis outbreaks in the United States.