Royal Caribbean Cruise Line has been struck by the Norovirus, again, according to authorities. US health inspectors are expected to arrive in the Virgin Islands today and investigate a suspected outbreak of norovirus, a highly contagious virus that is blamed for the sickness of over 300 crewmembers and passengers of a Royal Caribbean cruise ship.
The Explorer of the Seas, part of the Royal Caribbean line-up, has been stopped mid-way through a ten-day trip from Cape Liberty, New Jersey to St. Maarten in the Caribbean after complaints of diarrhea and vomiting were reported, according to the Center for Disease Control and the Royal Caribbean cruise line.
Of the 3,050 passengers, 281 have reported symptoms of the norovirus along with 22 crewmembers of the 1,165 on board. The virus has been spreading like wildfire through the passengers and crew with little means to stop it, reported the Center for Disease Control’s Vessel Sanitation Program that watches cruise ships sanitation practices.
Cruise ship line officials have reported, the Explorer of the Seas stated an increased number of persons complaining of gastrointestinal illness while sailing to the Caribbean. Those sickened by the virus have experienced relief after taking over the counter medications given on board.
While there is no known reason for the outbreak on the Explorer of the Seas, the ship was stopped in San Juan, Puerto Rico, to undergo a thorough cleaning and sanitizing routine that is known to kill the norovirus, according to officials. A familiar routine for the Royal Caribbean cruise line after it has been struck by the norovirus, again.
An officer from the Center for Disease Control’s Vessel Sanitation Program along with an epidemiologist are expected to arrive in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands and board the ship today to begin an investigation and analyze the outbreak.
Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines has issued an apology for the disruption of the passengers’ cruise vacation.
Norovirus is an aggressive virus, which spreads quickly through contact with infected people, contaminated food and water. Norovirus is the most prevalent cause of gastroenteritis in the U.S., causing approximately 21 million cases of acute gastroenteritis and hospitalizing 56,000-71,000 people every year and causing the death 800 people sickened with the disease, according to the CDC.
Norovirus lives on surfaces and easily spreads, although thorough handwashing techniques using hot water and meticulous cleaning or the area can slow down the spread of the disease.
Unlike the chicken pox virus, a person can be affected by the norovirus more than once in a lifetime. It can strike suddenly with intense stomach cramps, diarrhea, nausea and vomiting.
These symptoms are known by many different names, such as: food poisoning or the stomach flu. While some cases of the stomach flu can be the result of a norovirus infection, other chemicals and germs can cause the same symptoms.
Most people begin to feel relief in 1to 3 days; the norovirus can be serious in the elderly and in children, causing severe dehydration, hospitalization and death. Hopefully, Royal Caribbean cruise lines will be able to recover after being struck by the norovirus, again.
By Deborah Baran