CDC Confirms ‘Unknown’ Disease Outbreak Aboard Cruise Ship

( – The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has confirmed the outbreak of an “unknown” disease on the Queen Victoria cruise ship, first reported in mid-February. Passengers suffered vomiting and diarrhea as the disease spread throughout the ship, affecting more than 150 people. The CDC investigated the outbreak but admits it cannot identify the cause. Its Vessel Sanitation Program continues to monitor the situation.

Cunard Cruise Line operates the ship and said it has increased disinfection processes and isolated affected passengers and crew. The Queen Victoria departed from Hamburg, Germany, on January 22 and is due to call at the island of Samoa in the South Pacific before ending its journey in Sydney, Australia, in March.

The CDC noted a similar outbreak on Celebrity Constellation in January, which it attributed to norovirus. On that occasion, 92 passengers and eight crew members became ill, also with vomiting and diarrhea symptoms. The agency vaguely defines norovirus as “the leading cause of vomiting and diarrhea from acute gastroenteritis.”

Statistics show that norovirus is blamed for roughly 900 deaths per year in the United States – primarily of people aged over 65. Additionally, it is responsible for 109,000 hospitalizations, 465,000 emergency room visits, and 2,270,000 outpatient clinic appointments.

Last year, media reports claimed that norovirus cases on cruise ships had skyrocketed and spiked for the first time in over a decade. There were 13 outbreaks in just the first six months of 2023, and 1,939 people were infected.

Experts say the disease spreads by exposure to fecal matter, ingesting contaminated food, and touching contaminated objects. Contagion is highest within the first few days, and outbreaks are common in enclosed spaces with many people. It also spreads from person to person via touch, and additional symptoms include fever, muscle aches, and headache. Symptoms last for around 24 to 48 hours and can be more severe in children and the elderly. Doctors recommend preventative measures as simple as handwashing and say hydration can lessen symptoms.

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