Nearly 300 People Fall Ill On Caribbean Cruise, CDC Reports

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Health officials are investigating after nearly 300 people fell ill on a cruise ship voyage that ventured to parts of the Caribbean and Mexico at the end of February.

The Ruby Princess, part of the Princess Cruises lines, departed Galveston, Texas, on Feb. 26 for a round-trip voyage to the Caribbean and Mexico with 2,881 passengers and crew, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in a post published March 7. During that voyage, 284 people, including 34 crew members, fell ill with vomiting and diarrhea. The CDC noted that those numbers were limited to those who fell ill during the voyage and “do not represent the number of active (symptomatic) gastrointestinal cases at any given port of call or at disembarkation.”

While the CDC has not determined what has caused the widespread illness, spokesperson for Princess Cruises, Briana Latter, attributed it to a norovirus, according to Houston Public Media. (RELATED: Cruise Ship Returns To Port Day Early After 277 People Were Exposed To Noravirus, Forced To Stay On Boat)

Norovirus is a highly contagious virus that spread through direct contact with an infected person, contaminated food or water or touching contaminated surfaces, according to the CDC.

“At the first sign of an increase in the numbers of passengers reporting to the medical center with gastrointestinal illness, we immediately initiated additional enhanced sanitization procedures to interrupt the person-to-person spread of this virus,” Latter reported in her statement.

Those measures continued throughout the remaining portion of the voyage in accordance with the ship’s prevention and response plan, which included collecting stool samples from affected passengers so that they could be analyzed by the CDC lab for pathogenic identification, the CDC reported.

When the ship returned to port March 5, embarking guests were informed of the outbreak of the previous voyage, the CDC stated.