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Flu sickens hundreds on USS Roosevelt

USS Theodore Roosevelt

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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Hundreds of sailors aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt have caught the flu as the virus hit the aircraft carrier during exercises in the Atlantic, U.S. Navy officials said.

When the virus peaked about four days ago, it affected at least 300 of the more than 5,000 crew members stationed aboard the ship.

Navy officials said they were initially puzzled as to the cause of the widespread sickness, but the answer came after blood samples were flown for testing at the U.S. naval base in Norfolk, Virginia.

The samples showed the crew had an intestinal flu. At no time was the ship quarantined, Navy officials said.

Medical teams aboard the carrier treated the cases with the usual rest and plenty of fluids, and those not afflicted were told to wash their hands to prevent spreading the outbreak.

Officials said that the outbreak seems to be under control and that many of the stricken sailors are back at work.

The spreading of viruses aboard ships is common because of the close quarters the sailors keep, though it is not known why this outbreak was so widespread, a Navy official said.

After last year's terrorist attacks, the USS Theodore Roosevelt was the first carrier sent to the Arabian Sea.

It will be the Roosevelt's turn once again when the ship picks up a tour of duty from either the USS Truman or the USS Constellation. Those two carrier groups were recently deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and the possible war with Iraq.

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