Monday, November 17, 2014

Norovirus Outbreak on Cruise Ship Affects Over 170

An outbreak of Norovirus occurred on a cruise ship a few days after leaving port where over 170 people, including both passengers and crew members, became ill.  The trip was scheduled for a one month long trip.  Because Norovirus can spread so quickly, the boat was docked to allow the sick passenger's to disembark.

Norovirus is highly contagious and can spread quickly within a captive population such as passengers on a cruise ship, or students in a dormitory.  It is also a hardy virus, surviving for long periods of times on surfaces and withstanding normal sanitizer concentration.  Because of this, disinfection requires detail cleaning 
using higher sanitizer concentrations (up to/over one cup of chlorine bleach per gallon of water).

It is interesting that this boat had an earlier outbreak 6 months prior. So was something missed on a earlier cleaning, or did a passenger get on board already carrying the virus?

For a nice print out sheet on cleaning up diarrhea and vomit, click on this link.

      Clean-up and Disinfection for Norovirus (“Stomach Bug”)

Los Angeles Times

Princess Cruises ship docks in San Pedro after outbreak of norovirus

By Esmeralda Bermudez, Hugo Martin 11/16/14

A Princess Cruises ship docked in San Pedro early Sunday after nearly 170 people on board fell ill in the ship's second outbreak of norovirus this year, officials said.

Passengers began to show signs of the gastrointestinal sickness a few days into the month-long voyage to Hawaii and Tahiti. All the ill passengers and crew were treated on the ship. None required hospitalization when the ship, the Crown Princess, reached port, according to cruise officials.

Norovirus is highly contagious and can be picked up from an infected person, contaminated food or water, or by touching contaminated surfaces.

In total, 158 passengers and 11 crew members were reported having the illness, which causes vomiting and diarrhea, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The Princess Cruises ship's crew responded to the outbreak by cleaning and disinfecting the ship, encouraging passengers to report cases and collecting specimens for testing.

An official with the CDC was expected to board the ship to investigate the outbreak and the cruise line’s response. Specimens would be collected and sent to a CDC lab for more testing, officials said.

In total, 3,007 guests and 1,160 crew members were on board the ship.

Officials said safety measures would be taken so that infected guests disembarking the ship would not transmit the illness to other guests.

After the ship is disinfected, the Crown Princess is scheduled to depart for a cruise along the Mexican Riviera, Princess Cruise officials said.

In April, the Crown Princess, on a seven-day cruise, departing from San Pedro along the California coast, reported an outbreak of norovirus. The ship carried 3,161 passengers and 1,176 crew members.   

In January, gastrointestinal illnesses struck more than 700 passengers on two separate ships, Princess Cruises' Houston-based Caribbean Princess and Royal Caribbean's Explorer of the Seas.

The industry's image has taken a beating, partly as a result of the outbreaks.

A measure of the quality of the cruise industry fell 11% in February from a year earlier, according to a survey by the Harris Poll earlier this year. The score for trust in the cruise industry dropped 12% and scores indicating plans to book a cruise trip fell 13%, according to the poll.

Americans have a more favorable attitude about commercial air travel than cruising, according to an online survey.

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