The Centers for Disease Control reports Princess Cruise Lines’ ship Coral Princess sailed into Ft. Lauderdale on May 4 with 66 passengers and 3 crewmembers exhibiting signs of sickness. Under law, cruise lines must report sickness outbreaks when a certain amount of passengers and crew present to the ship’s medical facility with gastrointestinal (GI) illness. The Coral Princess is the fourth cruise ship to report at a South Florida port with a sickness outbreak significant enough to warrant an investigation by the CDC.
An infected person can contaminate others with a GI illness for two or more weeks after the symptoms pass. Due to the confined nature of cruise ships, sickness, including Norovirus, can spread rapidly. To lessen the likelihood of a GI outbreak Cruise lines have a duty to properly maintain, clean and disinfect food storage units, trays, ice machines, plates and utensils.
In response to the outbreak, Princess Cruises took the following actions:
- Increased cleaning and disinfection procedures according to their outbreak prevention and response plan;
- Made announcements to both notify passengers and encourage case reporting;
- Provide full service at all buffet and self-service food outlets;
- Preparing a ship turnaround disinfection plan for the Fort Lauderdale arrival 4 May, and will submit to the CDC for review;
- Making daily reports of gastrointestinal illness cases to the CDC.