According to the CDC, over 27 percent of passengers on the Balmoral, operated by Fred Olsen Cruises, became sick since the voyage began on April 16
Hundreds of passengers on a British cruise to North America have fallen ill with norovirus, (sometimes known as winter vomiting bug), health officials say.
Noroviruses are a group of viruses that are the most common cause of stomach bugs in the UK. It is estimated that around 750,000 people in the UK become infected each year; the most common cause of viral gastroenteritis. Noroviruses are also sometimes known as “winter vomiting viruses” or “Norwalk-like viruses”.
The US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) said 252 of 919 passengers on board the cruise ship had had the virus since leaving the UK.
Most of those on board are British Tourists, its owner, Fred Olsen Cruise Lines has stated.
The ship has been subjected to “extensive sanitisation measures and cleaning”, the firm added which left Southampton port in the UK on 16 April 2016. Fred Olsen said the ship had at no point in the cruise been quarantined.
It docked in Portland, Maine, on Sunday, before leaving for Saint John, in the Canadian province of New Brunswick. Previously it had visited the Azores, Bermuda, as well as the US cities of New York and Boston.
What are the symptoms of Norovirus?
The virus is transmitted by faecally contaminated food or water, by person-to-person contact,
and via aerosolisation of vomited virus and subsequent contamination of surfaces
Around 1-2 days after becoming infected, the virus causes a sudden onset of nausea followed by projectile vomiting and watery diarrhoea. Some people may have a fever, headaches and aching limbs, (signs of a viral infection) often leading people to call the illness “stomach flu”.
The illness is not generally dangerous and most people make a full recovery within one to two days. However, those who are at high risk including the very young, old and those who have an underlying medical condition risk becoming dehydrated which may require hospital admission and treatment.
A man, who did not want to be named, told how his parents were on board the Balmoral and had contracted norovirus.
“They have been confined to their cabin for 48 hours,” he said.
“They are quite fit but they’re in their late 70s, which is always a worry. This was supposed to be a cruise of a lifetime for my parents but has turned into a worrying and marred escapade.”
CDC experts boarded the Balmoral while it was docked in Baltimore to carry out tests on people who had fallen ill, the organisation said in a statement.
Since their arrival, the number of patients with norovirus, has increased. As well as the 252 passengers, eight of the 520 crew have also contracted the illness, the CDC said.
Fred Olsen Cruise Lines said cases were “particularly highlighted” on cruise ships, where people were in close confines. There were 15 passengers confined to their cabins, it said.
The company said it was “co-operating fully” with maritime authorities and would “continue to make every effort possible to ensure the safety and well-being of all its guests and crew”.
The Balmoral has been hit by other outbreaks of norovirus in previous years; in May 2015 an eight-day Scandinavian cruise on the same cruise ship was cut short after a number of people fell ill with norovirus. In 2010, at least 310 people on board the ship were reported to suffering diarrhoea and vomiting when it docked in Los Angeles. And an outbreak of norovirus hit more than 100 people on the Balmoral on a cruise of Scotland in 2009.
To make a claim under The Package Travel, Package Holidays and Package Tours Regulations 1992, you have to be able to prove the tour operator showed a lack of reasonable care and skill in the supply of your holiday. The regulations say the expected standard of skill and care will be considered in relation to the reasonable standards in the country where the accident happened.
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