It has been reported that a Celebrity Cruise ship that departed Charleston, South Carolina last week has been trying to manage a gastrointestinal disease outbreak. The latest numbers are that over 400 of the 1800 passengers are suffering from upset stomach, vomiting and diarrhea.

The outbreak has overwhelmed the ship’s medical facilities even with extra medical staff added at the last port.

What is the suspected culprit in this outbreak?

Based on the symptoms the passengers have had, some believe they are dealing with a norovirus infection. In addition, according to the Cruise Log of USA Today, in 2009 of the 13 cruise ship outbreaks norovirus was implicated in 7 of them.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has pointed out that cruise ship outbreaks have dropped dramatically since 2006 where there were 34 outbreaks.

What is norovirus?

The CDC describes norovirus and the symptoms that accompany it like this: Noroviruses are a group of viruses that cause the “stomach flu,” or gastroenteritis in people.

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.

According to a company spokesperson, the ship is doing extra cleaning and this should not impact next week’s cruise.