April 11, 2014 — A suspected outbreak of norovirus on a Crown Princess cruise in California has sickened at least 104 passengers and 24 crew members. Passengers were quarantined in their cabins to prevent the spread of the illness.
Princess spokeswoman Karen Candy said that about 3% of the 3,141 passengers got sick, but less than 15 were still reporting symptoms. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) must be notified when 2% or more passengers get sick.
The Crown Princess will be cleaned in San Diego before returning to Los Angeles on Saturday. Then it will receive an even more thorough cleaning. Princess has stepped up its cleaning efforts — they have placed hand-sanitizing gel throughout the ship, surfaces are cleaned more often, and passengers are advised to use the bathrooms in their own cabins.
Norovirus is a highly-contagious virus that causes gastrointestinal illness — diarrhea, vomiting, and abdominal pain for 1-3 days. The virus can be found in stool before you start feeling symptoms and for 2 weeks or more after you feel better. Transmission occurs when you ingest stool or vomit from an infected person.
Cruise ships are notorious sources of norovirus outbreaks. Thousands of people share confined spaces, eat at communal buffet lines, and share public bathrooms. The virus can survive on surfaces for days.
There have been five major outbreaks of norovirus on cruise ships this year, sickening over 1,000 people. The other outbreaks occurred in January and February and included: Holland America MS Veendam (124 people), the Royal Caribbean Explorer of the Seas (634 people), a Caribbean Princess (181 people), and a Norwegian Cruise (130 people).
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