Royal Carribean Explorer of the Seas Illnesses Hit More than 300: CDC

More than 300 passengers and crew on a Royal Caribbean cruise have fallen ill over the last week, resulting in an investigation by federal health officials.  

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that at least 281 passengers and 22 crew members on board the Royal Carribean “Explorer of the Seas” ship have become sick since the cruise left port in New Jersey on January 21,

The ship was on a 10-day cruise and carries 3,050 passengers and 1,165 crew members. The trip has been cut short by two days, according to Royal Caribbean officials.

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In response to the cruise ship illness outbreak, the CDC reports that Royal Caribbean crew members increased cleaning and disinfection procedures ship-wide, following an outbreak prevention and response plan; notified passengers of the outbreak and encouraged them to report illnesses; collected stool specimens from victims for CDC analysis; and sent more crew members to assist in sanitation and cleaning procedures, as well as other actions. Royal Caribbean is consulting with the CDC .

CDC officials say they placed an environmental safety officer and an epidemiologist on the ship on Sunday when it reached St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands to investigate the cause of the illnesses. While no official cause has been announced, some media reports say that the CDC suspects the illnesses are the result of a norovirus outbreak.

Symptoms of gastroenteritis from norovirus in humans can include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach cramping and sometimes low-grade fevers, chills, headaches, muscle aches and tiredness. The symptoms hit suddenly, and last for about several days. Death is uncommon.

Norovirus is extremely contagious, and is found in the stool and vomit of infected people. It is most often spread through unsanitary food preparation.

In 2011, a norovirus food poisoning outbreak sickened at least 150 passengers and three crew on the Royal Caribbean “Radiance of the Seas” cruise ship.

Photo courtesy of slgckgc via Flickr C.C. by 2.0


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