Norovirus sickens more than 170 on cruise ship

Story highlights

158 passengers and 14 crew members come down with norovirus

Princess Cruises' Crown Princess was on a nearly-month long trip

U.S. health officials track it on cruise ships, leading to more frequent reporting

CNN  — 

A new outbreak of a gastrointestinal illness aboard a cruise ship may have been caused by the norovirus, the ship’s operator said Wednesday.

At least 66 passengers and 17 crew members came down with a quickly spreading digestive bug aboard the Crown Princess, said spokeswoman Karen Candy of Princess Cruises.

This ship had sailed from Los Angeles to Hawaii and Tahiti.

They have been isolated in their quarters, and the ship has implemented sanitation procedures developed in coordination with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to slow the disease’s spread.

Onboard rapid norovirus testing resulted in positive results of the virus, the CDC investigation update confirmed.

“Over the last few days, the ship began seeing an increased number of gastrointestinal illnesses, caused by norovirus (commonly referred to as the stomach flu),” said Princess Cruises spokeswoman Susan Lomax, via email. “In response, we have enacted our stringent disinfecting protocols developed in conjunction with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), which includes an extensive deep cleaning of the ship and the terminal in Los Angeles on Sunday before the ship embarks on its next voyage.”

The CDC statement confirmed the ship has implemented CDC sanitation procedures to slow the disease’s spread. The cruise line also made announcements to notify onboard passengers of the outbreak, encouraging hand hygiene and case reporting. Passengers about to board the ship were also supposed to be notified.

At least 122 of 3,161 passengers and 30 of 1,176 crew members aboard the Crown Princess were sickened on an April sailing, according to the CDC. The federal agency blamed norovirus and E. Coli for the outbreak.

Norovirus is known for being quite contagious. It causes nausea, vomiting and diarrhea and is believed to have infected passengers on a number of cruise ships this year.

“As it is the cold and flu season, when the stomach flu circulates on land, we encourage all of our guests to be diligent in following the widely accepted practices of frequent hand washing with soap and water and the use of hand sanitizers,” said Lomax.

Is your cruise safe?

In February, 114 passengers and 10 crew members took ill on the Holland America cruise ship ms Veendam during a week long voyage.

In January, more than 600 people on cruise ships sailing in the Caribbean fell ill from the virus, the CDC reported.

How the Navy avoids norovirus

Norovirus infects many people on land, but health officials track it on cruise ships, leading to more frequent reporting of cases, the CDC said.

It is passed in person-to-person contact and can spread more easily in closed quarters.

CNN’s Greg Morrison contributed to this report.