Federal health officials intercepted a cruise ship as it docked in California on Sunday after dozens of people became ill with a norovirus, a highly contagious virus and the most common cause of food borne-disease outbreaks in the U.S. The ship is slated to embark again Sunday night for the Mexican Riviera.
At least 172 passengers and crew members aboard Carnival’s Crown Princess ship suffered from gastrointestinal symptoms, the second time in less than a year that the ship has had an outbreak of the virus, according to Reuters. The ship docked in San Pedro in Los Angeles after nearly a month at sea, with stops in Hawaii and Tahiti. More than 4,100 people were onboard.
"Over the last few days, the ship began seeing an increased number of gastrointestinal illnesses, caused by norovirus," company spokeswoman Susan Lomax said, according to Reuters. "In response, we have enacted our stringent disinfecting protocols developed in conjunction" with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, she said.
The new passengers will be informed of the norovirus outbreak, the CDC said. Health officials boarded the ship to investigate the outbreak and to collect specimens that would be sent to a CDC lab for testing, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Norovirus is a highly-contagious stomach virus that causes between 19 million and 21 million illnesses in the U.S. each year. Symptoms include diarrhea, vomiting, nausea and stomach pain, according to the CDC. If left untreated, it can lead to dehydration, especially among children and older adults.
The same Carnival cruise ship that arrived in Los Angeles on Sunday reported an outbreak of norovirus in April during a seven-day cruise along the coast of California.
In January, more than 700 passengers on two separate Carnival cruise ships were hit with gastrointestinal illnesses.