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Hundreds Sickened on a Royal Caribbean Cruise Ship

norovirus, royal Caribbean cruise
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Doesn’t it seem like the only times you get sick are over holidays and weekends? Just when you think you’ve made it to vacation, or just as you’re coming to the end of the week, BAM! You catch a cold and have to cancel all of your plans and spend your off time in bed drowning in tissues and lemon tea. Well, if it’s any consolation, you’re not the only one whose vacation was ruined with sickness. Just last month an entire cruise ship had to cut their vacation short due to the highly contagious norovirus.

The Contagious Cruise  

Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas sailed out of Florida and began its weeklong cruise trip just like any other with good food, entertainment, and smooth waters. But as the week went on, those on board started to take a turn for the worse.

Cruise ships expect the illness to a small extent, as the CDC reports that there are fewer than 30 people who get sick per 100,000 passenger days.[1]  But when almost 500 guests and crew members showed symptoms of nausea and vomiting that kept them confined in their rooms, they figured something more serious was likely at play.

A notice was sent out to all the cruise passengers explaining that the illness was thought to be norovirus, and the cruise staff made the decision to return to Florida a day early. This gave the cruise staff extra time to fully clean and sanitize the ship before the next trip.

Owen Torres, a spokesperson for Royal Caribbean, shared, “We think the right thing to do is to get everyone home early rather than have guests worry about their health.” Though the cruise passengers were forced to cut the trip short and miss out on a day of excursions in Jamaica, all 8,000 passengers were given a full refund of their fare.

What Is Norovirus?

What kind of disease is strong enough to take down a cruise ship of over 8,000 people? Well, it’s actually not as nasty as you might think, just extremely contagious.

Norovirus is a highly contagious virus marked by gastrointestinal illness. [2] It is typically spread by coming into contact with an infected person, but can also be transmitted through contaminated food, water, and surfaces. This is why norovirus outbreaks often occur in areas where large crowds of people are confined together in one area such as schools, nursing homes, hospitals, and, you guessed it, cruise ships.

The most common symptoms are:

  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Muscle pain
  • Low fever

These symptoms usually start 12 to 48 hours after you are exposed to the virus, and typically last 1 to 3 days. Most people recover without treatment. However, in some severe cases, patients can become seriously dehydrated and require medical attention.

Steer Clear Of Infection

So what’s the best way to keep your weekends, and holidays sickness free? The number one tactic for steering clear of infectious diseases is to wash your hands. You’ve heard it before and you’ll hear it again, but the truth is that nothing beats some good, old fashioned soap and water. So pick up that soap bar, get the suds going, and get back to your weekend!

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Emilyn Gil