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‘Pukefest’ and ‘heave ho’ describe cruise ship outbreak

December 11, 2014 Cruise, Headline News 3 Comments Email Email

egtmedia59Unkind headlines using terms like “pukefest” and “heave ho!” have surfaced in the wake of a vomiting outbreak, believed to be caused by norovirus, aboard the cruise ship Dawn Princess.About 200 passengers aboard the cruise ship were confined to their cabins after being struck down with the notorious “vomiting bug” on a cruise around New Zealand. The 1950-passenger ship left Melbourne on 28 November and is due to return this morning after the 13-day cruise.

Some 1500 passengers are aboard Dawn Princess. Princess Cruises said yesterday the outbreak was  “well on the way to being resolved”.

“We are also aware that external factors may have played a part, including reports of a higher than normal level of norovirus in the general population in Victoria at a rate usually expected in winter rather than early summer,” a Princess Cruises spokesperson told respected cruise website Cruise Critic.

Norovirus. Warning graphically sums up primary symptoms.

Norovirus. Warning graphically sums up primary symptoms.

The cruise line apologised for the impact on passengers’ holidays.

Alistair Humphrey, health officer for the city of Canterbury in New Zealand’s South Island, told the New Zealand Herald his staff had carried out tests that had confirmed the cause of the illness. Norovirus routinely causes vomiting and diarrhoea. The problems can last for up to three days.

Princess Cruises said in a statement that affected passengers had been isolated in their cabins until they were considered no longer contagious. Crew had disinfected surfaces such as railings, door handles and lift buttons, and had encouraged passengers to wash their hands correctly and use sanitising gels.

The Cruise Law News blog said a “pukefest” had been reported on the same ship two years ago. Then, 114 passengers and 11 crew came down with the vomiting bug.

Norovirus is very contagious. As diseases go, it was identified fairly recently, following an outbreak of acute gastroenteritis among children at a primary school in Norwalk, Ohio, in 1968. The illness usually begins suddenly about one or two days after exposure to the virus, with most victims experiencing several of the following symptoms: nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, stomach cramps, headache, low-grade fever, chills and muscle aches.

Symptoms usually last for one or two days but during that brief time the person can feel very sick and vomit many times a day.

Norovirus is extremely widespread. It thrives in places like schools, cruise ships, hospitals and childcare centres. The US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention says norovirus affects nearly 20 million people in the US each year – and it results in between 570 to 800 deaths.

There’s not a lot you can do if you catch it. The Health Department of Western Australia advises sufferers to “drink plenty of fluids such as plain water or oral rehydration drinks (available from pharmacies)”.

Written by : Peter Needham

Currently there are "3 comments" on this Article:

  1. stingforever says:

    …….drink coke after each meal or while eating…. the sugar and cola in it kill stomach bugs… I swear..

  2. Thank you to my illustrious and esteemed colleague Peter for his article on norovirus.

    Please check out this article I wrote in 2014 as I believe norovirus it is not specifically a cruise ship issue.


    Because norovirus does not exist or even lurk hidden somewhere on a ship, waiting to pounce on passengers!

    Quite simply, it is brought on board ships by passengers and it is the spread by the same passengers and particularly kids, through their failing to comply with the stringent health requirements on board.

    So, despite the cruise ships’ best efforts and believe me they are massive it will spread because of passengers’ lax approach to hygiene.

    How about this scenario.

    Kid has norovirus.

    Kid sanitises hands on entrance to food outlet.

    Kid wipes face and mouth with hands

    Kid places hand with norovirus on a surface when getting food.

    A passenger places his or her hand in same place after kid has gone.

    The passenger chooses a bread roll.

    The passenger puts the bread roll in their mouth with the same hand that had touched the surface where the kid with norovirus had put its hand.

    Passenger now has norovirus – simple!

    I have spent many hours behind the scenes speaking with Hotel Directors on cruise ship going through what they do to prevent the spread of diseases and discussing this issue.

    Check this out:-

    John Alwyn-Jones, Global Travel Media Cruise Editor

  3. Peter Needham says:

    Yes, it’s passengers who bring it aboard. Cruise lines do everything they can to prevent and control it.

    As long ago as 2003, Dave Forney, chief of the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention’s vessel sanitation program, told The Lancet that passengers who fell ill shortly before a cruise, but went on to take their long-planned holiday nevertheless, were “likely to be responsible for recent gastroenteritis outbreaks on cruise ships”.

    “Everything points to person-to-person contact in the spread of these Norwalk-like viruses, and we feel strongly that ill passengers are the culprits”, Forney told the medical publication.

    As I mentioned in the article, “Norovirus is extremely widespread. It thrives in places like schools, cruise ships, hospitals and childcare centres.”

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