Norovirus is the leading cause of food poisoning outbreaks in the U.S. and it sickens at least 20 million Americans a year with vomiting and diarrhea.
The Crown Princess had just finished a28-day cruise originating in San Pedro, CA that had traveled to Hawaii and Tahiti. While passengers should have been disembarking with nothing but happy memories of their adventures, CBS Los Angeles reports that more than 170 passengers finished their journey with norovirus. Over the course of the cruise, a number of passengers had complained of gastrointestinal disease, but the number had spiked during the last few days of the trip.
Federal health officials are now investigating the outbreak. The Princess Cruises Media Relations Department reports that there were a total of about 4,100 people on board the ship. After the spike in illnesses, the staff enacted “stringent disinfecting protocols” that are based on Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines. After returning from the journey, the ship underwent an extensive deep cleaning before being sent on its next journey.
Passengers on board the ship were kept apprised of the situation. The captain announced every day how many people were sick and confined to their staterooms. Those that were confined were asked to remain there and use room service to keep others from getting sick. Passengers also tried to touch fewer common areas and keep their hands as clean as possible.
According to HealthDay News, norovirus is the leading cause of food poisoning outbreaks in the U.S. and it sickens at least 20 million Americans a year with vomiting and diarrhea. Many more cases of norovirus may be unreported because individuals get sick and do not notify public health authorities. While cruises seem to be a hotbed for norovirus based on media coverage, the June 2014 issue of Vital Signs, a CDC publication, reported that food service handlers are the most common source of the illness.