Suspected norovirus on Explorer of the Seas – NoroCORE Food Virology

Suspected norovirus on Explorer of the Seas

A cruise ship deckYou may have already heard about this one, but we would be remiss in not posting about Royal Caribbean’s Explorer of the Seas, which is returning to the States two days early due to an outbreak of gastrointestinal illness, believed to be norovirus.

The ship was on a 10-day cruise to the U.S. Virgin Islands that left last Tuesday, and a couple of days ago 281 passengers and 22 crew members were reported to be sick.  As of a few hours ago the total number has since increased to 645 (595 passengers and 50 crew), or about 15% of the people affected.  This is one of the larger Royal Caribbean vessels, and is reported to have 3050 passengers and 1165 crew currently on board.  Some people have already recovered from their illness, but there are many who are still sick. Passengers with clinical signs are being asked to stay in their rooms and the company says all of the patrons will be compensated for their lost vacation time.

The cruise ship has undergone two extensive cleanings since the illnesses began and will have a third when it arrives in New Jersey tomorrow.  Investigators from the CDC are on board to attempt to find the source and verify norovirus as the cause, and they are staying with the vessel through its deep cleaning and boarding of the next group of passengers.  You can read more about what the CDC has been doing on its website.

There was also a smaller outbreak of gastrointestinal illness on Royal Caribbean’s Majesty of the Seas a little over a week ago, where around 2% of the people on board (66 of over 2,500 passengers and two crew members) became sick.  It was a four-day cruise from Miami and stopped at different ports than the current Explorer of the Seas cruise.

Jan. 31 UPDATE: The CDC has confirmed norovirus as the cause of the outbreak.

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