Norovirus Strikes Again

I am a seasoned germophobe, so I can tell you that there are two environments where bacteria thrive: elementary schools and cruise ships.* Schools are OK because you can simply bring your sick child home until he gets better. However, if you’re ill and stuck in the middle of the ocean, there’s nowhere to run.

Earlier this week, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officials boarded the Queen Elizabeth II to investigate an outbreak of stomach flu. The team determined that 278 passengers and 28 crew members were stricken with norovirus. The crew prevented the disease from spreading by instituting disinfection measures such as cleaning casino chips and thickening the buffet sneeze guard. (I may have made that second one up.) Norovirus can be fatal if dehydration occurs, but most infections end after a few days of horrible, horrible intestinal problems.

*This is obviously not a professional opinion, and both places are quite safe. In fact, I’d rather be on a cruise ship to Alaska right now.

Related: Last month, Iva posted about a 380-person norovirus outbreak on the largest luxury liner in the world.

Bigger AND Sicker

We reported that Royal Caribbean’s Freedom of the Seas was the biggest ship in the world. Now, it turns out that the size of the ship correlates with the size of the viral outbreak.

More than 380 passengers and crew succumbed to the norovirus on a cruise from November 26 through December 3. Then, the ship was cleaned up and set sail, only to stick 97 more passengers and 11 crew members with more than they bargained for on a cruise this past week.

The ship carries more than 3,900 passengers. Today, they set sail again, but with 45 more cleaning staff and 2 more doctors, and, hopefully, a few less viruses.