Yesterday I mentioned that over one hundred people are sick with norovirus aboard the Crown Princess cruise ship which will be arriving in Galveston tomorrow at the end of a 20 day cruise from Italy. This is the third outbreak of noro on this particular Princess cruise ship this year.
According to the Food & Drug Administration (FDA), although there are cases of noro illness transmitted by hand-to-hand contact, the most likely cause of a norovirus outbreak is contaminated water. Contaminated food is also a likely culprit.
But if you study the last one hundred cruise ship norovirus cases, one thing is certain – the cruise line will always blame the passengers for bringing the virus aboard.
The New York Times just published a short (three sentence) article about the latest norovirus outbreak on the Princess ship. The newspaper reports that Princess is again pointing its finger at its passengers:
"A spokeswoman for Princess Cruises says more than 100 passengers and crew members contracted a stomach virus on one of its ships, the Crown Princess. The illness struck during a Venetian cruise due to end Saturday at Galveston. The spokeswoman said the cruise line suspects the virus was brought on board by passengers."
If the cruise lines don’t flat out accuse the passengers of being the problem, there will always be an implication that the passengers must not have washed their hands.
The amazing thing about the cruise industry is the frenzy activity when the ships come to port. A tremendous amount of provisions are brought aboard at every port, literally hundreds of thousands of pounds of beef, chicken, pork, fish and shellfish as well as every fruit and vegetable under the sun. Hundreds of thousands of gallons of water are pumped into the ship. The crew members get on and off the ship and of course the passengers do as well.
Was the food and/or water served to passengers on the ship contaminated? Did the passengers or crew eat contaminated food ashore? Were the hands of a crew member involved in food preparation infected?
Proving exactly how the virus appears on a cruise ship is a difficult scientific process. But no one is engaged in such testing. Yes, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) test to determine whether the gastrointestinal illness is due to noro or e-coli, but that’s where the testing stops.
So the public is left with the blame game. The Crown Princess has not even arrived at the port of Galveston where the CDC inspectors are awaiting. But Princess is already telling the New York Times that its contaminated ship is the fault of unidentified guests and their dirty hands.
Photo Credit: Centers for Disease Control