February 24, 2014 — The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is investigating an outbreak of norovirus on a cruise ship that sickened 114 passengers and 10 crew members.
Symptoms of norovirus include vomiting and diarrhea for 24-72 hours. The highly-contagious disease spreads easily on cruise ships, where many people are confined in tight spaces and often eat from a communal buffet line.
The ms Veendam was on a 14-night cruise out of San Diego, passing through the Panama Canal before reaching its destination in Fort Lauderdale. There were 1,273 passengers and 575 crew members aboard. Approximately 9% fell ill.
Health officials boarded the Holland America cruise ship ms Veendam in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. They will be testing stool samples from crew members and sick passengers. According to Holland America, the ship underwent a thorough sanitization and has already set sail on another 15-day Panama Canal cruise to San Diego.
The cruise ship failed a sanitation exam in September after inspectors found a fly in the buffet and a brown liquid dripping on clean dishes. The CDC grades cruise ships on a 100-point scale, and an 85 or lower is considered failing. The ms Veendam had a 77. Since the CDC began keeping track of cruise ship sickness outbreaks, the Veendam has had seven cases of illness outbreaks.
Three other cruise ships had outbreaks of norovirus last month. The hardest-hit was a Royal Caribbean Cruise Line voyage on the MS Explorer of the Seas, which sickened over 634 passengers and 55 crew members, earning the the nickname “Exploder of the Seas.” An outbreak on a Caribbean Princess cruise ship sickened 181 of 3,102 passengers. An outbreak on Norwegian Cruise Line Star sickened 130 of 3,219 passengers.
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