New, Stronger Norovirus Outbreak Spreading Among Cruise Ship Passengers

Lipcon, Marguiles, Alsina & Winkleman, P.A

Just when we thought the Norovirus outbreak that affected millions of U.K. residents and cruise travelers had dissipated, a new, stronger strain of the virus appears to have surfaced and is taking the world by storm.

Norovirus, often referred to as the “stomach bug” lasts only a few short days, but it can completely ruin a cruise ship vacation. The virus spreads from person-to-person contact or through contaminated objects or food and leads to symptoms including nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Although the virus itself is not fatal, if victims do not stay properly hydrated, severe complications may arise.

The inconvenience of being stricken with this bug is enough to ruin anyone’s vacation. Most of the time, infected passengers – and crewmembers – are quarantined so as to prevent the further spread of the virus onboard. However, this can lead to even more complications and very unhappy guests. While cruise officials are responsible for offering treatment to those who become ill with Norovirus, victims don’t always receive the medical attention they deserve. In cases where the virus’ symptoms escalate due to lack of proper shipboard care, victims may be able to file a case against the line with the help of an experienced cruise ship passenger attorney, such as the ones at our firm, Lipcon, Margulies, Alsina & Winkleman, P.A.

The latest Norovirus strain is said to be extremely severe, which has health officials concerned over the possible outbreak of the bug onboard cruise ships, which because of their confined spaces and large number of travelers, make the perfect breeding grounds for the virus to spread.

So far, the strain has spread from Australia to Europe, then made its way to Canada and now it has reached the U.S. According to Australian media channels, the new Norovirus strain was first identified in Sydney last March, and has already led to the deaths of nursing home residents all the way from California to Japan. It has also stricken over 1 million Britons thus far and has ruined many a cruise ship vacation for sick travelers.

Norovirus is so resilient, that alcohol-based hand sanitizers won’t even protect against the illness. The only thing that does, however, is regular soap and warm water. Anyone who is in close proximity to the virus or who is already ill is advised to wash their hands repeatedly throughout the day and use bleach-based cleaners to disinfect surfaces.

According to Peter White, Ph.D., professor of microbiology and molecular biology at the University of New South Wales, who helped identify the new, mutated Norovirus strain, explained that the Sydney virus is a combination of two strains, which, unfortunately, means that no one is immune to it.

“The immunity that people carry from previous Norovirus infections won’t protect them from this new virus,” White told the Sydney Morning Herald. “Therefore, the virus can infect many more people.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warn cruise travelers that even after Norovirus symptoms subside, patients remain contagious for three days after they recover. Children and the elderly are more susceptible to experiencing complications with the bug, so ensuring proper sanitation is key to preventing an infection.