Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Norovirus outbreak on ship departing from San Francisco

An outbreak of norovirus occurred last week on a Princess Cruise ship departing from nearby San Francisco en route to Hawaii.  Of the 3,681 people on board, over 150 passengers and crewmembers were infected with the virus aboard the Star Princess.  Norovirus was detected in preliminary tests collected onboard the ship, and  stool samples have been collected and sent to the CDC for further testing.

After detection, sanitation procedures were ramped up to prevent further transmission of the virus. Passengers were also advised of ways to minimize transmission and their risk of infection, including washing their hands thoroughly, and using only restrooms in their cabin.  Furthermore, passengers were not allowed to disembark the ship, due to the possible risk of transmission.  Upon its return to San Francisco, the ship was thoroughly cleansed in preparation for its next cruise.

This latest outbreak has further affirmed the reputation of cruise ships as a breeding ground for extremely contagious pathogens such as Norovirus.  In fact, this incident represents the sixth time in 2015 that a cruise ship has reported a Norovirus outbreak en route to a US port.  The Princess Cruise line is no stranger to Norovirus outbreaks; in 2014 alone, outbreaks operated by Princess Cruises accounted for seven of the sixteen documented outbreaks on cruise ships in 2012.

--Andrew Duong

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