96 Hit with Norovirus on Princess Cruise Ship

Another cruise ship has been hit with <"http://www.yourlawyer.com/topics/overview/norovirus">norovirus. According to King5.com, norovirus sickened 96 people on the “Sapphire Princess,” a cruise ship based in Seattle.

According to Kym Boisvert, whose cabin was across the hall from sickened passengers told King5.com, “You go on vacation, you pay quite a lot of money for this. It’d be nice if they gave you the courtesy, or at least get the sick people off.” She and her husband stopped shipboard activities when they learned of the outbreak, said King5.com. “We didn’t mingle with anyone on the boat because we didn’t want to get sick, so we pretty much stayed to our room,” Boisvert added.

Julie Benson, a spokesperson for Princess Cruises, identified the outbreak as a norovirus outbreak and confirmed that 96 passengers sought medical care on the cruise returning from Alaska, wrote King5.com. In her telephone interview, Benson said that the crew implemented a so-called “red level” designation, meaning that the highest sanitary precautions were implemented, reported King5.com.

Although Benson never used the word “quarantine,” she did admit that crew suggested that ill passengers remain in their rooms and that staff took other obvious precautions, said King5.com. “All the time people were wearing latex gloves. They were being very careful and they made you sanitize your hands before you went into the food area and you weren’t allowed to touch any of the food utensils,” said passenger Cindy Hedum from Minneapolis, quoted King5.com.

Once emptied, the ship was cleaned in what Benson described as the crew going into a “super-sanitize” mode, taking two additional hours to clean the ship before the new group of 2,000 passengers was allowed entry, said Kings5.com. The new passenger group was likely unaware of the outbreak.

Seattle-based longshoremen, who handle some shore side cruise ship functions, were notified of the outbreak. “We’re wearing gloves, latex gloves,” said longshoreman Rodney Liverman, quoted King5.com. “You just take precautions. We’re handling money, touching luggage, dealing with people,” Liverman added.

We’ve been following recent norovirus outbreaks on cruise ships, including one that sickened over 400 passengers on a Celebrity Cruise lines trip recently. This was just one of eight prior such outbreaks this year alone. Four took place in one week, said the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC, which runs a cruise ship sanitation program, was recently criticized for doing a poor job of detecting dirty cruise ship bathrooms.

In 2009, there were a total of 15 cruise ship outbreaks of norovirus and experts are unclear why 2010 is seeing such an early rise, said MSNBC, previously. Also, according to a prior New York Times article, there have been more than 60 outbreaks of norovirus on cruise ships since 2005. 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.

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