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Investigation of Gastroenteritis on the Regal Princess Cruise Ship

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CDC's investigation of Gastroenteritis on the Regal Princess Cruise Ship

(June/July 1998)

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is assisting Health Canada in investigating outbreaks of gastroenteritis (vomiting or diarrhea) in three consecutive cruises of the Regal Princess sailing from Vancouver and Alaska. The dates of the cruises were June 7-14, June 14-21, and June 21-28. At least 270 persons became ill and reported to the ship's medical staff during the three cruises.

The outbreak is suspected to be caused by a small round structured virus (SRSV) commonly known as a "Norwalk" virus. It is unusual for a gastroenteritis outbreak of magnitude aboard a cruise line to be associated with this virus. By analyzing questionnaires from passengers who were on the last cruise, epidemiologists are trying to determine how the ill passengers were exposed to the virus.

Princess Cruises elected to take the Regal Princess out of service for one week (June 28-July 1) for extensive sanitation cleaning. The ship can only be cleaned effectively while passengers are not aboard.

The CDC Vessel Sanitation Program (VSP) continues to work with Health Canada and to monitor steps taken by Princess Cruises to eliminate potential sources of gastroenteritis outbreaks.