Friday, May 15, 2015

Norovirus Vomiting Bug Epidemic on San Francisco Cruise Liner Infects More Than 150 Tourists on Their Way to Hawaii

More than 150 passengers and crew on board a cruise ship have been struck down with norovirus after contracting the vomiting bug while out at sea.

In total 135 passengers and 16 staff on board the Star Princess became infected during a 15-day cruise to Hawaii, which ended yesterday, according to the Centres for Disease Control.

The sick reported being confined to their cabins after being diagnosed with norovirus, a highly contagious infection which causes the stomach and intestines to become inflamed.

There is no known cure for the virus, which causes vomiting, diarrhea and stomach pains, and is usually passed on by coming into contact with objects or food an infected person has touched.

The outbreak began shortly after the ship departed on April 29, with 30 passengers reporting flu-like symptoms while the Star Princess, owned by Star Cruises, was on its way to Hawaii.

According to ABC7, all the infected passengers were confined to their cabins as part of an emergency protocol drawn up after the Star Princess’s sister ship, the Crown Princess, suffered a similar outbreak last year.

The holidaymakers said they were allowed out to eat, but were not allowed to touch anything the other guests might use, and even had salt and pepper shakers removed from their tables.

David Fox told CBS San Francisco: ‘They stopped letting us get our own food in the buffet line. They served us everything… even the packets of Splenda that you use in your coffee.’

Despite the precautions another 111 people on board managed to pick up the stomach bug, including 16 members of the crew.

In total the Star Princess is capable of carrying 2,590 passengers, along with 1,150 staff.

During the trip staff cleaned the boat each night with bleach to prevent the infection from spreading, and after arriving back in San Fransisco, staff were asked to disinfect the whole ship.

Helicopter footage taken from the scene shows men in blue overalls with mops and buckets washing the decks, while others were seen on a balconies of several of the rooms.

Passengers due to embark for the next cruise found their journey delayed by several hours while cleaners completed their sweep.

A spokesman for Star Cruises said: ‘The good news is that through our response procedures developed in conjunction with the CDC, new case presentations trended downward and we didn’t have any ill guests by the end of the cruise.

‘Today, while the ship is in port, we will be delaying embarkation for the next cruise in order to conduct a thorough cleaning of the vessel while there are no guests on board.’