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Sydney 2012 norovirus strain confirmed as agent on ‘Explorer of the Seas’ outbreak

The strain of norovirus, known as GII.4 Sydney, has been confirmed by federal health officials as the etiological agent that sickened some 700 passengers and crew onboard Royal Caribbean’s “Explorer of the Seas” last week, according to a NBC News report yesterday.

Norovirus Image/CDC

Norovirus Image/CDC

The cruise vessel, carrying 3,050 passengers, docked in New Jersey last week after 630 passengers and 54 crew members grew ill during a Caribbean cruise. It was one of the largest norovirus outbreaks on a cruise ship in the last 20 years.

The new norovirus strain, first detected in Australia last March, known as GII.4 Sydney, was implicated as the number one cause of norovirus outbreaks in the United States during the last quarter of 2012, according to a Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) released Jan. 24, 2013 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The Sydney strain of norovirus has been implicated inoutbreaks in the United Kingdom and Japan, among other countries in recent years.

The GII.4 Sydney strain was blamed for an outbreak last year on the Queen Mary 2. During a voyage that ended in early January 2013, 220 passengers and crew were sickened by the virus.

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 vomitingthan 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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