Norovirus Hits Royal Caribbean Cruise Ship

Yet another cruise ship has been hit with <"http://www.yourlawyer.com/topics/overview/norovirus">Norovirus. According to WTSP, the Royal Caribbean Radiance of the Seas cruise ship, pulled into port this weekend in Tampa, Florida, with hundreds of ill passengers.

Two people on board—Melba and Claudia—who did not want to release their last names, said that the five-day Mexican cruise was not only memorable but that “There were hundreds of people sick …. They were throwing up in all of the bathrooms,” quoted WTSP.

Benjamin Katzenstein, 14, one of the ill said, “I had to get a shot in my rear,” quoted WTSP. Another sick passenger, Jean Matthews, said, “Stomach cramps, throwing up, diarrhea, achy body, couldn’t move, headache. I was pretty well out for… the last three days,” reported WTSP. Nic Vaske said, “Just really nausea—a lot of throwing up and, basically, it felt like I was dying.”

Some passengers noted immediate changes once people were becoming ill. For instance, Claudia said, quoted WTSP, “But we suddenly noticed that we couldn’t touch food. There were no salt and pepper shakers on the table. You couldn’t touch a menu, so it got to be very, very bad.”

While some passengers felt that the cruise line was responsive, providing free medical care, for example, others, including Claudia, disagreed, saying, “Really, they should have done more for their customers except what they did. They just said there’s a virus, so what, we’re being careful. Goodbye.” The Radiance of the Seas took off five hours later on its next voyage—9:30 p.m. Saturday night—for sanitizing, said WTSP.

Most recently, we reported that 96 people on the Sapphire Princess, a cruise ship based in Seattle, fell ill from Norovirus on the Princess Cruise ship’s return from Alaska. Over 400 passengers on a recent Celebrity Cruise lines trip were sickened with Norovirus in just one of eight prior such outbreaks in 2010, 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 criticized last year for doing a poor job of detecting dirty cruise ship bathrooms.

In 2009, there were a total of 15 cruise ship outbreaks of Norovirus. Also, according to a prior New York Times article, there have been more than 60 outbreaks of Norovirus on cruise ships since 2005.

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, and are a group of viruses that cause swelling in the linings of both the stomach and intestines, according to the CDC. A highly contagious, severe gastrointestinal illness commonly referred to as the so-called “stomach flu,” Norovirus spreads quickly because it is transmitted easily from person to person through the vomit and feces of people sick with the illness. Contact with only a few particles can make a person ill.

People are generally considered to be contagious from when they feel ill to about three days after their symptoms subside; however, the virus can still be active in their vomit or stool for two weeks or more.

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