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Princess Cruises confirms Norovirus cause of illness on Crown Princess

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Yesterday we reported here that three dozen passengers aboard Princess Cruises Crown Princess were felled by Norovirus-like symptoms. Today that figure has nearly doubled with 66 passengers and 17 crew members reporting gastrointestinal disorders. The ship is currently making a seven day voyage that left Los Angeles on April 5 en route to Santa Barbara.

Examiner emailed a cruise line spokeswoman, Karen Candy, and asked for clarification of the situation. Her response is published below with some editing:

“Onboard the current sailing of Crown Princess, there has been an increase in the number of cases of gastrointestinal illness among passengers. We believe the cause to be the common virus called Norovirus, which is extremely contagious and easily transmitted from person-to-person. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports widespread Norovirus activity throughout North America that has affected people in schools, hospitals, nursing homes, childcare centers, as well as cruise ships this season.”

The statement continues, “All individuals who are ill (currently 66 passengers and 17 crew members), have been isolated in their cabins until they are not contagious.”

Candy stated that Princess has implemented enhanced sanitation procedures onboard Crown Princess to interrupt the person-to-person spread of this illness and that the line’s sanitation program has been developed in coordination with the 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 enhancing this with the use of hand sanitizing gels placed throughout the ship; isolating ill passengers in cabins until non-contagious; encouraging passengers to use their own cabin’s bathroom facilities; and providing regular verbal and written communication to passengers about steps they can take to stay well while onboard.

According to Princess’s statement, “Historic incidence rates of gastrointestinal illness aboard cruise ships are very low. According to the (CDC) the vast majority of outbreaks occur in land-based settings. Additional information can be found at CDC’s Facts About Noroviruses on Cruise Ships.” “In 2013, there were seven norovirus outbreaks on cruise ships reported to the CDC, involving a total of 1,238 passengers. To put that into perspective, approximately 21.3 million passengers sailed on Cruise Line International Association member cruise ships in 2013 so this figure represents approximately six one thousandths of one percent (.006%) of global passengers. Additionally, the CDC reports there are about 20 million norovirus cases in any typical year on land in the United States.”

If you're planning on taking a cruise but worried about catching a virus, watch the video to see how to protect yourself from an unlikely incident.

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