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Norovirus Suspected After 104 Passengers On Tampa-Bound Cruise Ship Gets Sick

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention suspects a norovirus outbreak after 104 passengers, including the crew, became sick on a Tampa-bound cruise ship where 1,843 passengers were on board, according to the ABC Action News.

During a 15-day cruise, which departed from Rome, Italy on November 3, 86 passengers and 18 crew members were reported sick with the same symptoms of vomiting and diarrhea, which prompted authorities to believe it was a norovirus outbreak, a highly contagious illness that causes “inflammation of the stomach and intestines.”

Before the ship docked in Tampa, crew members separated the sick in their cabin while they executed “enhanced sanitation procedures” to prevent the norovirus outbreak from spreading to the other passengers and crew members.

A passenger who was on the cruise ship, Margaret Cabral, later wrote via email that the passengers “were updated daily by the captain and were told that the cases were subsiding on a daily basis and as of Wednesday of this past week, no new cases had been reported.”

“The crew performed an outstanding job in sanitizing and continuously cleaning all areas of the ship. As the cruise continued from Portugal to Tampa there appeared to be a large number of passengers who had developed serious coughs and that gave us cause for concern.”

In response to the norovirus outbreak on the Tampa-bound cruise ship, Holland America released the following statement: “At the first sign of an increase in cases, we immediately initiated enhanced sanitation procedures to interrupt the spread of the virus.”

“This successful protocol has been developed in coordination with the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and includes such measures as thorough disinfection of high-touch surfaces like railings, door handles, and elevator buttons; encouraging passengers to use correct hand washing procedures and hand-sanitizing gels placed throughout the ship; isolating passengers with symptoms in cabins; and providing regular verbal and written communication to guests about steps they can take to stay well while onboard and safeguard the health of others.”

“To reduce the potential further impact on our guests and crew,” the statement continued. “The ship will conduct a thorough sanitation at the conclusion of the current cruise on Nov. 18 in Tampa, Florida, before embarking guests for the next voyage. The ship will depart as scheduled at 4:40 p.m.”

Holland America also added that “outbreaks occur on land and incidents on cruise ships are very rare – approximately eight one-thousandths of one percent (0.008 percent) of all cruise passengers are affected.”

“At Holland America Line, the safety and well-being of our guests and crew is our top priority.”

Although the norovirus is not life threatening, several travelers were concerned, including Darrelyn Thompson, who stated that she became “nervous” after learning 104 passengers on a Tampa-bound cruise ship became sick, reported the Cruise Hive.

Thompson added that “we were planning on going on a cruise again in April. Now, I’m afraid.”

Other travelers weren’t at all worried about the outbreak, stating that they “knew what they were getting into and norovirus is quite common.”

“I’ve got every confidence in Holland America,” said a passenger.

Robert Schuler told reporters that “I’ll just do the same thing I always do – I’ll always wash my hands.”

A Vessel Sanitation Program environmental health officer and an epidemiologist were sent to the cruise ship to conduct “an environmental health assessment and evaluate the outbreak and response activities.”

Specimens were collected during the assessment, which will be sent to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for testing.

Towards the end of the 15-day cruise, it was reported that after the suspected norovirus outbreak, the ship was sanitized twice before setting sail Friday on their two-week voyage across the Caribbean.

[Featured Image By Bruno Vincent/Getty Images]