The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) revealed that 73 (66 passengers and 7 crew members) on Virgin Voyages’ Scarlet Lady cruise ship reported being ill during the cruise that ended in Miami on Friday, with complaints of abdominal cramps, vomiting and diarrhea.
This year, there have been 14 gastrointestinal outbreaks on cruise ships that met the federal health agency’s threshold for public notification, more than any for the years between 2017 and 2019.
The CDC has not determined the “causative agent” for this most recent outbreak. Norovirus is listed as the causative agent in all other 13 cruise ship outbreaks this year.
Norovirus is the usual cause of gastrointestinal illnesses on cruise ships and is commonly the cause of outbreaks in nursing homes, hospitals and daycare facilities. According to the CDC and FDA, the most likely cause for cruise ship GI outbreaks is contaminated water or food.
Virgin Voyages downplayed the outbreak, stating that there is no impact to the upcoming cruise’s ports of call. Virgin Voyages’ COO Michelle Bentubo told USA TODAY: “We are working closely with the CDC and their medical professionals. There is currently no impact to the upcoming voyage’s departure time or ports of call.”
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Photo Credit: Scarlet Lady – Sidvics – CC BY-SA 4.0 commons / wikimedia; molecure – BBC.