April 11, 2014 — A Crown Princess cruise ship docked in San Diego yesterday with at least 104 passengers and 24 crew members sickened by a suspected outbreak of norovirus, though fewer than 15 were still sick. The ship is scheduled to return to Los Angeles on Saturday after a thorough cleaning.
Norovirus is extremely contagious. The ship quarantined dozens of sick passengers in their cabins, placed hand-sanitizing gel throughout the ship, and stepped up cleaning of surfaces. Passengers were also advised to use the bathrooms in their own cabins and regularly wash their hands.
The Crown Princess was on a seven-day cruise from Los Angeles that included stops in San Francisco and Santa Barbara. Passengers could leave the cruise voluntarily at any of the stops, said Princess spokeswoman Karen Candy.
Federal law requires cruise lines to notify the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) if more than 2% of passengers get sick. About 3% of the 3,141 passengers on the Crown Princess were sick.
It is the fifth major outbreak of norovirus on a cruise ship this year. In January and February, over 1,000 people got sick in outbreaks on the Holland America MS Veendam (124 illnesses), the Royal Caribbean Explorer of the Seas (634 illnesses), a Caribbean Princess (181 illnesses), and a Norwegian Cruise (130 illnesses).
Norovirus is the most common cause of gastrointestinal illness, with symptoms including nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Outbreaks occur on cruise ships because thousands of people share confined quarters and eat food in communal buffet lines. The virus is contagious even before you start feeling sick, and it can stay in stools for 2 weeks or more after you start feeling better.
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