Hundreds Sickened by Norovirus in Royal Caribbean Cruise Ship
More than 300 people on a Royal Caribbean cruise were sickened by a nasty gastrointestinal illness that is characterized by severe vomiting and diarrhea. According to news reports, the Independence of the Seas, which had visited Haiti and Jamaica, returned to Port Everglades Florida over the weekend, carrying a lot of sick people. This is apparently the second time in less than a month that guests had become sick on one of the Royal Caribbean’s ship. Earlier this month, about 200 passengers became ill on a cruise between Singapore and Australia. Five of those passengers had to be hospitalized.
Royal Caribbean issued a statement saying 332 of the 5,547 passengers and crew became ill during this most recent norovirus outbreak. Passengers who gave interviews to local news outlets in Florida said that number of those sickened could have been much higher because not everyone who fell ill sought medical treatment on board. Medical staff in the cruise ship gave passengers over-the-counter drugs to treat the illness.
Norovirus and Cruise Ships
Norovirus is an illness that is commonly transmitted through food and water that is contaminated during preparation. For example, if someone who is already infected with the virus, prepared food in a cruise ship or restaurant, those consuming the food are highly likely to contract the illness. Those who do contract the virus could experience symptoms within 24 hours including diarrhea, abdominal pain and vomiting. Most people do tend to recover without treatment. However, young children, seniors and those with weakened immune systems may require hospitalization or medical attention.
Norovirus outbreaks are fairly common on cruise ships where thousands of people are in close quarters. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in 2014, 700 passengers and crew members on a Royal Caribbean ship became ill due to a norovirus outbreak, making it one of the largest outbreaks of its kind in two decades. The CDC estimates that between 2008 and 2014, 129,678 passengers suffered acute gastrointestinal illnesses on cruise ships.
If You Have Been Affected
If you or a loved one has been affected by a norovirus outbreak on a cruise ship, you may be able to seek compensation for damages from the cruise ship operator including medical expenses, lost income, cost of hospitalization and pain and suffering. Victims in such cases would be well advised to contact an experienced food poisoning lawyer who will be able to protect their rights and hold the at-fault parties accountable.