Princess Cruises' Coral Princess voyage disembarked in Fort Lauderdale on Saturday, March 18, after a 10-day cruise in which 182 people were sickened with symptoms of vomiting and diarrhea. According to federal health officials, a norovirus is suspected for the outbreak.
Twenty-five of the 881 crew members were reported as sick along with 157 of 2,016 passengers. Their symptoms included nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and minor stomach cramping. Some people may also experience a low fever, chills, headaches, muscle aches, and fatigue.
Viral gastroenteritis, also called the stomach flu, or food poisoning, happens quite suddenly, and makes the infected person feel very unwell. Usually, symptoms only last for a couple days, but children may experience harsher symptoms such as vomiting, more so than adults would.
The bug is extremely contagious and likes to spread in enclosed and crowded places, from person to person. Typically, a person can catch norovirus through infected food and water. Touching surfaces or things contaminated with the bug and then putting your fingers to your mouth is also another way to get infected.
Princess Cruise took steps to contain the outbreak according to the ship's outbreak prevention and response plan. Crew members increased their cleaning and disinfection routines, collected stool samples from infected people, tested them, and then reported twice daily with any new cases or improvements to the Vessel Sanitation Program.
An environmental health officer from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Vessel Sanitation Program boarded the Coral Princess when it docked on March 18 to assess the situation. An evaluation of the outbreak, the cruise lines's response, and a health assessment was conducted. Norovirus is suspected but has yet to be confirmed.