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8 Cruise Ship Outbreaks In 2014: Is Your Cruise Safe?
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8 Cruise Ship Outbreaks In 2014: Is Your Cruise Safe?

Apr 12 2014, 9:45am CDT | by

Yesterday, reports hit the news of another Princess Cruise with a boatload of sick passengers. This time it was the Crown Princess, on a weeklong voyage along the coast of Southern California and...

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15 weeks ago

8 Cruise Ship Outbreaks In 2014: Is Your Cruise Safe?

Apr 12 2014, 9:45am CDT | by

Yesterday, reports hit the news of another Princess Cruise with a boatload of sick passengers. This time it was the Crown Princess, on a weeklong voyage along the coast of Southern California and Mexico, with an outbreak of norovirus.

The Crown Princess pulled into port in San Diego Thursday with more than 100 passengers and crew ill with the gastrointestinal bug, which spreads easily in tight confines.

Eleven passengers elected to disembark in San Diego (paying a $300 per person fee, according to an ABC news report) but the ship and its more than 3100 other passengers are now back at sea following the planned itinerary.

Also this week came the news that two consecutive trips on the Royal Caribbean ship Grandeur of the Seas departing to the islands from Baltimore were afflicted with outbreaks of norovirus, one of them  affecting more than 100 passengers. What’s going on?

Cruise Ship Illness in the Headlines

It’s been a tough year so far for the cruise industry.

• In late February and early March, two virus outbreaks, one of them definitively norovirus, afflicted Holland America’s ships ms Maasdam and ms Veendam while on 7-day trips through the Caribbean.

• In early February a norovirus outbreak sickened more than 600 people, making it one of the biggest such outbreaks on any cruise ship in the last 20 years. That trip, a Royal Caribbean voyage aboard the luxurious Explorer of the Seas, was cut two days short.

• Just before that, the Caribbean Princess also had a norovirus outbreak that affected close to 200 people, and that trip also ended two days early, although Princess Cruises cited fog as the official reason for the early return.

In all, according to CDC data, epidemics of gastrointestinal illness have broken out on eight cruise ships so far in just the first 13 weeks of 2014. Of these, norovirus is the established cause of the outbreak in at least five.

For comparison, the CDC lists only 9 gastrointestinal outbreaks for all of 2013, of which eight were due to norovirus. (In other words, it’s a good guess that more of the 2014 outbreaks will eventually be attributed to norovirus.) However 2012 was worse, with 16 cruises experiencing disease outbreaks, all of them due primarily to norovirus.

It’s important to note that the CDC’s data include only cruise ships that participate in the agency’s official Vessel Sanitation Program (VSP); ships in this program are required to report the number of people who saw a doctor for gastrointestinal (GI) illness while on board.

While Princess, Royal Caribbean and Holland America seem to be having the bulk of the bad luck this year, they aren’t the only cruise lines coping with norovirus. in 2013, Celebrity Cruises had four boats infected with the bug and Cunard, Crystal, Prestige, and Lindblad Expeditions have all had problems with outbreaks too.

Like nursing homes, hospitals and other institutions that have grappled with norovirus in recent years, cruise ships are vulnerable because of the large number of people confined to a limited space while dining and mingling together, experts say.

The Navy prevents norovirus by immediately quarantining sick sailors, something that’s much more difficult for a cruise ship to require of its guests.

What Is Norovirus?/>/>

Identified as recently as 1973, noroviruses, which come in many strains, are now known to be the most common of all GI viruses, but it’s taken a long time to learn much about them.

According to the CDC, upwards of 20 million cases a year – more than half of all cases of stomach flu – are caused by noroviruses. It wasn’t until the 1990s, though, that virologists developed a way to test for norovirus, so it’s only in the past 20 years that we’ve realized how common they are.

Compared to other causes of food poisoning such as E. coli, listeria, and salmonella (all of them bacterial), noroviruses are fairly mild, usually limited to nausea, stomach cramps, diarrhea, and vomiting.

Still, 570 to 800 people a year die from norovirus. nausea, vomiting and diarrhea as the most common symptoms. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that there are about 20 million cases of Norovirus in the U.S. each year, resulting in 570 to 800 deaths. It usually clears up in one to three days, the CDC says.

Is My Cruise Safe?

Public trust in the cruise industry has been eroded by the recent virus outbreaks, according to a Harris poll just released showing that 54% of those polled said they were less likely to take a cruise than they were a year ago. The same majority rated air travel “much safer” than cruise travel.

The survey also offers a detailed look at consumer quality perception and trust across the seven major cruise lines.

For more health news, follow me here on Forbes.com, on Twitter, @MelanieHaiken, and subscribe to my posts on Facebook.

 
Update
10

7 weeks ago

RM47mil KWSG contributions still unclaimed

Jun 9 2014 7:54am CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR: About RM47 million of contributions in the Teachers Provident Fund (KWSG) still remain unclaimed, the Dewan Rakyat was told tod ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 
Update
9

7 weeks ago

Gold shop lost almost RM1mil

Jun 9 2014 3:50am CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

KANGAR: A gold shop owner lost almost RM1 million after after the safe on in his shop was broken ...
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Update
8

7 weeks ago

Motion to debate MAS losses in Dewan Rakyat rejected

Jun 9 2014 3:39am CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR: AN emergency motion to debate the losses incurred by Malaysia Airlines last year, amounting to RM1.2 billion was rejected by the D ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 
Update
7

7 weeks ago

MH370 Tragedy: Hisham: RM27.6 mil spent on 1st phase of SAR

Jun 9 2014 2:11am CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia spent some RM27.6 million in its first phase of the search operations for missing Malaysia Airline flight MH370, said Acting Transport Minister, Datuk Seri Hishammuddin ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 
Update
6

7 weeks ago

9.1m litres of diesel seized in a month

Jun 8 2014 1:11am CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

PUTRAJAYA: The Domestic Trade, Cooperatives, and Consumerism ministry has seized some 9.1 million litres of diesel and property worth RM58 million since mounting ‘Operasi Diesel Selatan’ in the southe ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 
Update
5

8 weeks ago

Girl, 9, awarded RM2.78m compensation for medical negligence

Jun 6 2014 4:56am CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR: A nine-year-old girl who suffered brain damage during her birth at a government hospital was awarded over RM2.78 million ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 
Update
4

8 weeks ago

Malaysia's total trade in April up 12pc

Jun 5 2014 11:52pm CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia's total trade in April 2014 rose by 12 per cent from a year ago to RM123.86 billion due to growing trading activities, International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Mustapa Moh ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 
Update
3

8 weeks ago

Works Ministry to spend RM20m for upgrading works at 50 accident black spots

Jun 4 2014 11:35pm CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

JOHOR BARU: The Works Ministry will implement upgrading works at 50 accident prone locations in the country that have been identified this year involv ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 
Update
2

8 weeks ago

Najib launches loan scheme for Ramadan traders

Jun 4 2014 10:24pm CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

PUTRAJAYA: Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak today launches RM45 million Ramadan Bazaar Scheme ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 
Update
1

8 weeks ago

Residents bring up objection against Kidex to Suhakam

Jun 4 2014 4:49am CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

PETALING JAYA: A group of 20 Petaling Jaya residents held a meeting with the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) over their objection against the proposed RM2.2 billion Kinrara Damansara Skywa ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 

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