Royal Caribbean Cruise Line’s Grandeur of the Seas returned to Baltimore Monday from it’s 10-day voyage after approximately 200 passengers and crew were sickened with the gastrointestinal bug, norovirus.
The CDC’s Vessel Sanitation Program reported 178 passengers and 9 crew last Friday; however, Royal Caribbean spokesperson Cynthia Martinez said 193 guests(9.91 percent) and nine crew members(1.15 percent) were sickened by the contagious virus.
In response to the outbreak, Royal Caribbean Cruise Line and the crew aboard the ship are taking the following actions: Increasing cleaning and disinfection procedures according to their outbreak prevention and response plan, making announcements to notify onboard passengers of the outbreak, encourage case reporting, and encourage hand hygiene and collected stool specimens from ill passengers and crew.
Two CDC Vessel Sanitation Program environmental health officers and two epidemiologists boarded the ship in Falmouth, Jamaica on January 30, 2015 to conduct an epidemiologic investigation, environmental health assessment, and evaluate the outbreak and response activities. Samples collected at that time revealed the causative agent as norovirus.
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 hasdiarrhea.
Norovirus causes more than 20 million illnesses annually, and it is the leading cause of gastroenteritis outbreaks in the United States.
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