Norovirus: Scores sickened on Norwegian Gem - Outbreak News Today | Outbreak News Today Outbreak News Today
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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
Image/Jim.henderson

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.

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12 Comments

  1. Kasey says:

    While I understand and appreciate the fact that the ship has to be cleaned and scrubbed – I do not think it is right for them to have the passengers that are waiting to board the ship waiting at the terminal “squished in like sardines with no drink or food” (direct quote from an actual passenger there) for this many hours. They announced that they (waiting passengers) should go sight seeing – but will not give them a realistic time to be back in order to not miss the ship.
    They treatment of those waiting should be better then what it is now and they need to be told.

    • While it was an inconvenience, the folks waiting like sardines should be happy that the crew busted their buts for two days sterilizing the ship – then had to wait for all prior guests to disembark. After that they literally took each and every stateroom apart and sterilized every inch. For those inconvenienced, I bet they would be more pissed if they were allowed on a ship that wasn’t properly cleaned.

  2. steve says:

    what happened to washy washy?

  3. brindsey says:

    We were on the Gem and disembarked 22nd March. We never knew how many cases there were, but rumour had it a lot were on Deck 10 where we were. The Captain originally said, on 17th March, that there were a couple of cases for concern that could be attributable to the water on Puerto Rico. Hence all buffet restaurants no longer offered self service.
    When the ship wasn’t allowed to berth at St Maarten on 18th March, and we believe the Captain tried long and hard to negotiate with the Port Authorities, then it was apparent there were more than one or two cases.
    “What happened to washy washy? Steve, I’ll tell you. For the first few days of the cruise I saw several arrogant idiots refuse the spray. Imagine a tiny Filipino girl saying to a 6ft something hulk they had to conform with “Happy Happy Washy Washy”. They just contemptuously walked right past, as if it were some sort of joke. I saw this happen several times on my own visits to the self service restaurant so how many times was it happening a day?
    Not only are these girls unable to stand up to this mindless stupidity, their jobs are so precious they know the smallest transgression with a passenger could cost them their job. If a dispute arose between a paying customer and a newly recruited Filipino ‘washy washy’ girl whose version do you think NCL would agree with?
    All credit to the ship’s management, they pulled down the shutters on self service. You could not gain access to cutlery without ‘washy washy’. You could not pick up a plate, a packet of salt or even ketchup. Everything had to be given to you/put on your plate by the ships’ employees wearing plastic gloves. They drafted in people from everywhere, including the entertainers. At times there was chaos and there were queues. I saw people slam down plates saying they’d had enough. A number of times I forgot such essentials as sugar and salt, even a spoon, and had to rejoin a queue to get it, or do without.
    So, for five days, if we wanted buffet food for the most part we had to queue for it. We often had to explain very carefully exactly what we wanted as not all ‘temporary’ restaurant staff had a great grasp of the English language, but did do their best in extremely difficult circumstances. We lost the deposit on our privately organized shore trip to St. Maarten and the Islanders themselves lost valuable dollars, dollars that must have weighed heavily in the decision of the Port Authorities who ultimately felt it safer for the Norovirus to be contained on the ship.
    And all because of the morons who wouldn’t have sanitizer put on their hands.

  4. THE GEM BILLED ME CLOSE TO $2500 for the medical services I received when I sought treatment for violent vomiting and body aches and refused to reverse the charge, upon my request when the Captain announced med care would be gratuitous!!! I had spent the day before Puerto Rico in my cabin vomiting from the moment I awoke until 7:45 pm when my son returned to check on me. By then, I was throwing up bile and had terrible body aches so I went to the medical suite. I has a script for zofron leftover from my having had breast cancer in 2009-2010 and despite its strength, it did not work whcih has never happened in the past. I was exhausted and continued to vomit until I was given a shot of another medication and slept and slept until and through the next day. I vaguely recall medical staff peering in every once in a while and I returned to my room the evening the boat left PR. By that point, it was clear there was an outbreak and the next day they left a bill on my bed for almost $2500.00!!!! I am 48 years old and was healthy before we left, as I had just gone to my doctor for a check up since the final stage of my reconstructive surgery occurred in Deember 2015 and this trip was to celebrate this. My family has traveled NCL on 5 prior occasions and, in fact, we paid for a pricey wedding aboard the GEM in 2010. The Captain had announced that passengers experiencing such symptoms should go to med for treatment FREE OF CHARGE!!!! My ship card overdrew my bank account and I was bouncing checks at home. I went to customer relations in charge of the boat AND THEY REFUSED TO REVERSE THE CHARGES! They billed me $360 per hour for 24 hours, aside from the $184 “fee” because the DR had closed at 7:30 and I arrived shortly thereafter. My trip was ruined, I could not make any purchases and they billed me for room service despite this, and when my son got sick and did not leave the cabin. They refused to remove the $13.50 per day per passenger service charge, times four passengers in our tiny cabin. We had tipped the staff directly along the way knowing that the card was overdrawn. WAS ANYONE ELSE CHARGED? This was so stressful and unfair I cannot imagine that they would treat any passenger this way, especially a repeat passenger who recently survived breast cancer. In fact, we got married on the GEM as we had booked the cruise before my diagnosis and after my first breast cancer surgery failed, we decided to get married before the second surgical attempt. We cruised again in 2013 to celebrate my being cancer free. The customer relations manager was rude and dismissed me from his office. They would not allow me to call NCL customer relations from the ship, and my card was blocked from using it for anything including calls from the room. Did anyone else experience this? I am a lawyer and the night I was in the med offcie there were other passengers with the same symptoms, yet they claimed it occurred in PR. That is likely bc the cruise contracts absolves them from liability for illness brought aboard on an island. Their claim that it was the water in PR is utter nonsense!! Please post response ….Nancy nancycorriganesq@outlook.com

  5. […] month, 150 were stricken on the Diamond Princess in Australia, and 135 passengers fell ill on the the Norwegian Gem in New York. March is considered the peak of high season for infectious diseases, but the cruise industry and […]

  6. Joe. donza says:

    Both my travel partner and myself became violently I’ll on this cruise
    Although I did not visit the ships doctor my partner did and was treated for severe stomach cramps and diarrhea. She was medicated and restricted to our room on deck #9. Shortly before we were to dock in St.martin two crew officers came to our room, about 9:40 p.m. ,and collected our room keys thereby isolating the both of us for the next 24 to 36 hours. In fact the only port we visited was Puerto Rico. In addition we had health issues.in our room.There was a terrible odor of mold in the bathroom and after several visits by the household staff we were advised that the exhaust fan was not operational and the shower drains had to be cleaned and cleared. In all we lost least five days of the ten due to illness that was caused by ncl. I have contacted the line with our plight but after two weeks of waiting were basically sent a form letter stating that they were sorry but would from kindness of their hearts issuing a port credit for not docking in St Martin.a whopping credit in the amount of $ 19.60. Wow ain’t that great !!
    We are pursuing this further with our bank in the hope that we can get reimbursed.
    ,

  7. […] such as the one on the Diamond Princess last month in Australia, where 150 were stricken, and the Norwegian Gem in New York, where 135 passengers fell ill. March is considered the peak of high season for infectious […]

  8. […] a follow-up on the outbreak onboard the Silversea Cruises ship, Silver Spirit, last month, health officials reported yesterday that the cause of the […]

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