Hundreds of passengers currently on a 12-night Caribbean cruise, which departed from New York on Saturday, December 22, are suffering from acute symptoms of a highly contagious virus. There are 2613 passengers and 1,255 crew members on board and the number of passengers with active symptoms continues to grow. The ship is now docked in Saint Maarten.
Earlier this week, 189 passengers and 31 crew members had come down with symptoms, which are consistent with the norovirus, a highly-contagious virus that is easily passed from person to person through contaminated food or water. [. . .] Norovirus causes an inflammation of the stomach or intestines called acute gastroenteritis, producing stomach pain, nausea and diarrhea, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Each year, norovirus causes some 21million illnesses, of which 70,000 require hospitalization. It kills about 800 people a year, the CDC says.
The Queen Mary 2, with 2,613 passengers and 1,255 crew members, is now docked in Saint Maarten in the Caribbean, according to ship owner Cunard Line, which is owned by Carnival Corp. The CDC learned of the illnesses on the QM2 on Christmas Day, and of those on the Emerald Princess last Saturday. Vessels are required to notify the agency when two percent of those on board develop a gastrointestinal illness. Although the microbial culprit remains unclear in both cases, another reason to suspect norovirus is that the pathogen ‘has affected a number of schools, hospitals, nursing homes and children’s day care centres this winter’ in the United Kingdom, Ms Cunard said in a statement.
[. . .] In response to the outbreak, the QM2 crew has increased cleaning and disinfection procedures, the CDC said, and is asking passengers and crew to report cases of illness and ‘encourage hand hygiene.’ Medical personnel are also collecting stool specimens from ill passengers and crew, which a CDC lab will analyze to make a definitive diagnosis.