California Cruise Ship Struck with Illness

Norovirus on cruise ship in California causes illness for passengers and crew of Princess Cruises

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD Beth Bolt, RPh

(RxWiki News) People go on a cruise usually expecting relaxation and adventure. Yet some passengers on a California-based ship have been met with an unpleasant type of adventure — that of a stomach virus.

Over 80 people onboard have been reported ill with what is suspected to be norovirus, a contagious virus that causes inflammation of the stomach and intestines.

Steps have been taken on the cruise ship in an effort to stop the spread of the virus, including steps to disinfect surfaces.

"Avoid close contact with or cooking for others when you are sick."

The Washington Post reported on April 9 that 83 people onboard were ill, including 66 passengers and 17 crew members. These numbers had more than doubled from the 37 ill passengers first reported on April 7.

Those ill are suspected to have norovirus, a very contagious viral illness that can spread through contact with infected people or infected surfaces or through consuming contaminated food or water.

Symptoms typically include diarrhea, vomiting, nausea and stomach pain, but can also include fever and body aches, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The ship, a Princess Cruises boat called "The Crown Princess," has stops at a number of ports in California, including San Francisco, San Diego, Santa Barbara and Los Angeles.

According to the Washington Post, Princess Cruises has reportedly asked sick passengers and crew members to remain in their cabins in an effort to contain the spread of the illness.

A spokeswoman for the cruise line, Karen Candy, also told the Washington Post that surfaces in the ship, including door handles, had been disinfected. The ship is scheduled to end its trip on Saturday in Los Angeles.

According to CDC, norovirus is very common and causes an estimated 19 to 21 million illnesses, 56,000 to 71,000 hospitalizations and 570 to 800 deaths annually in the US.

CDC suggests a number of steps to prevent the spread of norovirus, including washing hands carefully and thoroughly with soap and water.

"Noroviruses can be found in your vomit or stool even before you start feeling sick. The virus can stay in your stool for 2 weeks or more after you feel better," explained CDC. "So, it is important to continue washing your hands often during this time."

CDC also recommended that surfaces are disinfected and clothes are washed thoroughly, especially after contact with vomit or stool.

There is no specific treatment for norovirus, but patients should take care to make sure they stay hydrated, especially if coping with diarrhea or vomiting.

Review Date: 
April 10, 2014
Last Updated:
April 11, 2014