Published On: Mon, Jan 27th, 2014

UPDATE: ‘Explorer of the Seas’ outbreak case count up to 645

In an update to the gastrointestinal outbreak of unknown etiology, suspected norovirus, on Royal Caribbean’s Explorer of the Seas, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Vessel Sanitation Program (VSP) reports the total number of passengers and crew taken ill to be at 645 total, according to a VSP update Jan. 27.

On Friday, the VSP reported 281  and 22 illnesses among passengers and crew, respectively.

Norovirus  Image/CDC

Norovirus Image/CDC

However, the latest update shows a dramatic increase in cases. The number of passengers affected by the outbreak has increased to 595 of 3050 (19.5%), while 50 of 1165 (4.3%) crew have been sickened by the unknown infectious agent, suspected to be norovirus based on symptomology.

The outbreak has prompted Royal Caribbean to cut the 10-day cruise (Jan. 21-31) by two days.

In a Royal Caribbean press release Sunday evening, the cruise line said, “Explorer of the Seas will return home from its 10-day cruise two days early, after an outbreak of gastrointestinal illness that spiked over the weekend.

“The disruptions caused by the early wave of illness means that we were unable to deliver the vacation our guests were expecting. After consultation between our medical team and representatives of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, we think the right thing to do is to bring our guests home early, and use the extra time to sanitize the ship even more thoroughly.

“After returning to home port on Wednesday, Jan. 29, we will perform a thorough “barrier” sanitization program on the entire ship to make certain that any remaining traces of the illness are eliminated. It will be the third aggressive sanitizing procedure the ship has undertaken since we became aware of the issue, and will additionally provide a window of more than 24 hours where there are no persons aboard the ship, which is a significant help. Guests scheduled for the next cruise on Explorer of the Seas can be confident that all possible measures will have been taken to prevent further problems.”

One additional CDC Vessel Sanitation Program environmental health officer will board the ship upon arrival on January 29 to assist with the evaluation of the disinfection process. The team will continue the investigation and evaluation on the ship thru the boarding of new passengers for the next voyage.

Norovirus is a highly contagious illness caused by infection with a virus of the same name. It is often called by other names, such as viral gastroenteritis, stomach flu, and food poisoning.

The symptoms include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and some stomach cramping. Sometimes people additionally have a low-grade fever, chills, headache, muscle aches, and a general sense of tiredness. The illness often begins suddenly, and the infected person may feel very sick. In most people, the illness is self-limiting with symptoms lasting for about 1 or 2 days. In general, childrenexperience more vomiting than adults do.

Norovirus is spread person to person particularly in crowded, closed places. Norovirus is typically spread through contaminated food andwater, touching surfaces or objects contaminated with norovirusand then putting your hand or fingers in your mouth and close contact with someone who is vomiting or has diarrhea.

Norovirus causes more than 20 million illnesses annually, and it is the leading cause of gastroenteritis outbreaks in the United States.

For more infectious disease news and information, visit and “like” the Infectious Disease News Facebook page and the Outbreak News This Week Radio Show page.


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About the Author

- Writer, Co-Founder and Executive Editor of The Global Dispatch. Robert has been covering news in the areas of health, world news and politics for a variety of online news sources. He is also the Editor-in-Chief of the website, Outbreak News Today and hosts the podcast, Outbreak News Interviews on iTunes, Stitcher and Spotify Robert is politically Independent and a born again Christian Follow @bactiman63

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  1. Royal Caribbean cruise line, ‘Explorer of the Seas’ docks in NJ after nearly 700 ill - The Global Dispatch says:

    […] Over the course of the past several days, the cruise line saw the number of passengers and crew sickened with symptoms of vomiting and diarrhea escalate to 684 total. […]

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