At least 204 passengers and crew onboard a Princess Cruises, Crown Princess voyage have contracted norovirus, according to federal health officials. This is the first cruise ship outbreak of 2016.

Princess Cruises' Crown Princess Image/Video Screen Shot
Princess Cruises’ Crown Princess
Image/Video Screen Shot

12 outbreaks were investigated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Vessel Sanitation Program (CDC-VSP), 11 outbreak were due to norovirus.

The two week voyage that returned to Los Angeles earlier this week saw 180 passengers and 24 crew people who suffered or were suffering from symptoms of vomiting and diarrhea.

Two CDC Vessel Sanitation Program environmental health officers and one epidemiologist boarded the ship in Los Angeles, CA, on January 18, 2016, to conduct an environmental health assessment and evaluate the outbreak and response activities. Specimens were collected and tested onboard using a norovirus rapid test; results were positive for norovirus.

In response to the outbreak, Princess Cruises and the crew aboard the ship reported the following actions: Increased cleaning and disinfection procedures according to their outbreak prevention and response plan, collected stool specimens from passenger and crew gastrointestinal illness cases for testing and made twice daily reports of gastrointestinal illness cases to the Vessel Sanitation Program.

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 has diarrhea.

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