350 Sick on Caribbean Cruise Ship

The Associated Press (AP) wrote that some 350 people who <"http://www.yourlawyer.com/topics/overview/cruise_ship_injuries">fell sick on a cruise ship are responding to medication. The Celebrity Cruise ship left from South Carolina on February 15 and was headed for the Caribbean.

Cynthia Martinez, a spokeswoman for Celebrity Cruise said that 326 of 1,800 passengers on the Celebrity Mercury started reporting gastrointestinal issues on Sunday, such as sick stomachs, vomiting, and diarrhea, said the AP. Of 850 crew members, 27 have reported similar symptoms, added AP.

An additional physician and two nurses were brought on board in the Leeward Islands; the ship is on its way to Charleston and is scheduled to arrive on Friday, said the AP. The source of the outbreak remains unknown, added the AP.

In November, we wrote that a Norovirus was ruled as the culprit in another outbreak on a cruise ship. Norovirus, which can survive for weeks on surfaces at room temperature, can be difficult to eliminate, and can only be killed with chorine bleach. Alcohol-based hand sanitizers and other preparations are not too helpful.

Norovirus outbreaks occur frequently in closed populations, such as cruise ship passengers. According to The New York Times, there have been more than 60 outbreaks of Norovirus on cruise ships since 2005.

A study we wrote about in November suggests that keeping public restrooms on cruse ships clean could go a long way toward preventing
Norovirus among passengers and crew. Unfortunately, the study, which was published in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases found that public bathrooms on cruise ships are not being cleaned properly. What’s more, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which runs a cruise ship sanitation program, is not doing a very good job of detecting dirty cruise ship bathrooms.

The study used trained health care professionals to covertly evaluate the
“Thoroughness of Disinfection Cleaning” of six standardized objects (toilet seat, flush handle or button, toilet stall inner handhold, stall inner door handle, restroom inner door handle, and baby changing table surfaces) with high potential for fecal contamination in cruise ship public restrooms. To do this, the investigators used an easily removable solution visible only under ultraviolet light to mark the objects. Then they monitored them for five to seven days to see if the solution had been removed by cleaning or disinfecting.

Over the course of the study, the investigative team evaluated 56 cruise ship, representing less than 30 percent of the vessels operated by nine large cruise lines, from July 2005 through August 2008. There were 19 outbreaks of intestinal illness during the three-year study period. While the survey was not designed to detect Norovirus or establish the cause of any illness, the restroom cleanliness scores were slightly lower on ships that had outbreaks than on those that had none.

The investigators found that only 37 percent of 8,344 objects in 273 randomly selected cruise ship public restrooms were actually cleaned daily.

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