Noro on the Anthem?

A local news station in Philadelphia reports on a recent gastrointestinal outbreak on the Royal Caribbean Anthem of the Seas.

ABC-6 reports that a family from Philadelphia returned from a 7-night cruise aboar the Anthem which departed Cape Liberty, New Jersey on Saturday, November 4th. The news stations reports that on the second day of the seven day cruise, "rumors of the virus started circulating . . . and started to spread fast. Workers could be seen spraying the narrow hallways, but it was apparently spreading like wildfire." 

A newlywed woman and her husband and several of her family members became ill with symptoms of a gastrointestinal virus. 

The family complained to the news stations that "some hand sanitizing stations ... didn't have any Royal Caribbean Norovirussanitizer available to us, there were out of soap at certain sinks, there were no sanitizing stations at the elevators . . the ship's managers (didn't take) enough measures to stop the spread of the virus, which is not airborne but rather comes from personal touch with others or germs left on surfaces."

Royal Caribbeaan confirmed that "were a total of 98 reported cases of gastro-intestinal illness symptoms, which represents 1.9 percent of the 4,905 guests and crew onboard." 

The CDC's Vessel Sanitation Plan requires cruise ships to send a separate notification when the GI illness count exceeds 2% of the total number of passengers or crew onboard. Cruise ship outbreak updates are posted on the CDC website only when 3% or more of the passengers and crew report symptoms to the ship informary during the cruise.

Because there were less than than 2% of the passengers and crew members reported ill during the cruise, the CDC will not list the outbreak on its official cruise ship Outbreak Updates page.

A couple of take-aways from this article. First, how many passengers did not dislose their symptoms to the ship doctor?

Secondly, there is no indication that the outbreak is related to norovirus, which cannot be confirmed until there is scientific analysis of the infected passengers' stool samples, which will not be done because the CDC is not involved.

Thirdly, the local news station is wrong that GI virus outbreaks can't occur through airborne transmission. Two years ago, in an article titled Norovirus Spreads by Air on Cruise Ships, I discussed that researchers have concluded that norovirus can spread by air, according to a publication in the highly respected Clinical Infectious Diseases.

Finally, don't call us if you get sick on a cruise. Establising where the virus came from, or that the cruise line was negligent, is virtually impossible to prove, especially since the CDC conducts no epidemiological analysis and sometimes can't even figure out the source of the outbreak

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Read: Gastrointestinal Outbreak on the Crown Princess, Again.

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Lorraine - December 5, 2017 9:24 PM

I was on the Anthem from 11/11-11/18. We received an email boarding would be delayed so they could clean the ship because of the previous cruise. Unfortunately, within 24 hours I came down with it and then my husband. We were in bed for almost 3 days, no appetite, we tell everyone this was the most expensive diet we ever on. The crew did the best to prevent guests from getting sick but this spread like wildfire. They were consintly cleaning the walls, handrails, we all started pushing elevator buttons with our knuckles. After 33 cruises, this was the first time this ever happened and we will definitely cruise again, and on Royal.

Laura - December 16, 2017 3:02 PM

I was on the same cruise. Anthem of the Seas 11/11-11/18. We received the same email. Unfortunately, we came down with it our party of 4 the last 2 days. My mom lost her jewelry been sick, never recovered. Was our first time that happened to us, after a World Cruise and more than 15 cruises we will cruise again, but not sure we will on Royal after this experience and read today that already happened the same thing on Independence of the Seas.

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