A new outbreak of a gastrointestinal illness aboard a cruise ship may have been caused by the norovirus, the ship’s operator said Wednesday.
At least 66 passengers and 17 crew members came down with a quickly spreading digestive bug aboard the Crown Princess, said spokeswoman Karen Candy of Princess Cruises.
They have been isolated in their quarters, and the ship has implemented sanitation procedures developed in coordination with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to slow the disease’s spread.
The Crown Princess, which has room for more than 3,000 passengers, left Los Angeles on Saturday for a seven-day Pacific cruise.
Though Princess Cruises believes norovirus is at the root of the outbreak, due to the quick increase in the cases of gastric ailment, Candy did not confirm it as the cause.
Norovirus is known for being readily contagious. It causes nausea, vomiting and diarrhea, and is believed to have infected passengers on a number of cruise ships in recent months.
In February, 114 passengers and 10 crew members took ill on the Holland America cruise ship ms Veendam during a week long voyage.
In January, more than 600 people on cruise ships sailing in the Caribbean fell ill from the virus, the CDC reported.
Norovirus infects many people on land, but health officials track it on cruise ships, leading to more frequent reporting of cases, the CDC said.
It is passed in person-to-person contact and can spread more easily in closed quarters.
Norovirus infection can cause the sudden onset of severe vomiting and diarrhea. The virus is highly contagious and commonly spread through food or water that is contaminated by fecal matter during preparation. You can also be infected through close contact with an infected person.
Diarrhea, abdominal pain and vomiting typically begin 24 to 48 hours after exposure. Norovirus symptoms last one to three days, and most people recover completely without treatment. However, for some people — especially infants, older adults and people with underlying disease — vomiting and diarrhea can be severely dehydrating and require medical attention.
Norovirus infection occurs most frequently in closed and crowded environments such as hospitals, nursing homes, schools and cruise ships.
Signs and symptoms of norovirus infection include:
- Abdominal pain or cramps
- Watery or loose diarrhea
- Low-grade fever
- Muscle pain
Signs and symptoms usually begin 24 to 48 hours after first exposure to the virus, and last one to three days. You may continue to shed virus in your feces for up to three days after recovery.
Some people with norovirus infection may show no signs or symptoms. However, they are still contagious and can spread the virus to others.
When to see a doctor
Seek medical attention if you develop diarrhea that doesn’t go away within several days. Also call your doctor if you experience severe vomiting, bloody stools, abdominal pain or dehydration.