Three hundred thirty three passengers (310) and crew (23) on the recent voyage onboard Royal Caribbean’s Independence of the Seas were afflicted with symptoms of vomiting and diarrhea, resembling norovirus, according to federal health officials.

Independence of the Seas Image/Tuigirl
Independence of the Seas

The exact agent that caused the outbreak has not been identified.

In response to the outbreak, Royal Caribbean Cruise Line and the crew aboard the ship reported the following actions to include increasing cleaning and disinfection procedures according to their outbreak prevention and response plan, collecting stool specimens from passenger and crew gastrointestinal illness cases for testing, delaying embarkation for the next cruise to conduct level 3 sanitation barrier, and sending members of the cruise line’s support team to assist with ongoing sanitation procedures and public health prevention measures.

CDC Vessel Sanitation Program environmental health officers and epidemiologist boarded the ship in Ft. Lauderdale on December 16 to conduct an environmental health assessment and evaluate the outbreak and response activities.

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 nauseavomitingdiarrhea, 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.


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