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Hundreds Literally Sea ‘sick’ on Luxury Linr

‘A sea cruise we will never forget’, is how some passengers describe it.//

They speak for many more, around 300 passengers and crew who were infected with a stomach flu-causing bug; norovirus aboard the luxury cruise ship, Queen Elizabeth 2.

This virus causes a contagious gastric illness, gastroenteritis that leaves its victims with diarrhea, stomach pain, nausea and vomiting.

The liner’s owner Cunard Line notified the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on January 11 that some of the passengers and crew were sick with symptoms resembling gastroenteritis caused by norovirus.

The ship was examined by CDC officials at Mexico, and docked at San Francisco.

As officials continue to perform lab tests on stool samples the suspect is norovirus, which causes this form of gastroenteritis.

Norovirus is highly contagious and infection is common this time of year. In rare cases, the elderly and young children can die from dehydration caused by norovirus symptoms. The infection, which ranks second only to the common cold in reported cases, usually clears up in two or three days with no lasting effects.

The infections amounted to nearly 17 percent of the ship's 1,652 passengers, a particularly high percentage, said Jaret Ames, acting chief of the CDC's vessel sanitation program.

By comparison, a norovirus outbreak last month aboard the world's largest cruise ship, Royal Caribbean's Freedom of the Seas, infected 338 passengers out of 3823, or less than 9 percent.

Investigators determined the emergency sanitation measures put in place by the QE2's crew, from disinfecting casino chips to halting self-service at the ship's buffet, were containing the outbreak.

Passengers report to have treated well by the crew, and many of them have recovered.

Yet this may be a sea-faring adventure whose memories they are unlikely to cherish.


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