CDC investigating more cruise ship illness outbreaks

Passengers and crew on three separate cruise sailings were sickened by stomach illness in late March and early April, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Updates posted on the CDC’s Vessel Sanitation Program website show that passengers on Princess Cruises’ Crown Princess and Royal Caribbean International’s Grandeur of the Seas were affected.

The seven-day Crown Princess voyage wrapped up Saturday at the Port of Los Angeles after 153 passengers, or 4.84 percent of guests, suffered from symptoms such as vomiting and diarrhea. About 30 crew members, or 2.55 percent, fell ill. The ship left port late at 9 p.m. Saturday after a prolonged cleaning for a seven-day cruise to Mexico, a spokeswoman said.

Early tests indicated norovirus, a common and highly contagious virus, was to blame.

The CDC said norovirus also sickened 111 passengers on Grandeur of the Seas during a trip between March 28 and April 5. On the ship’s next sailing out of Baltimore, from April 5 through Saturday, 4.66 percent of passengers — or 99 guests — got sick. Fewer than one percent of crew members became ill on each trip. The CDC had not specified the cause of the most recent outbreak, but a Royal Caribbean spokeswoman said it was “thought to be norovirus.”

Boarding was delayed Saturday to allow for extra sanitizing.

According to the CDC, norovirus is the most common cause of “acute gastroenteritis” in the U.S., causing 19-21 million illnesses every year. So far this year, at least 1,600 people have suffered stomach illnesses on cruise ships, though norovirus has not been confirmed in each case.

Information about cruise ship outbreaks is posted when at least three percent of passengers or crew report symptoms.

Hannah Sampson

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