Maasdam Undergoing Thorough Sanitizing Following Gastrointestinal Outbreak
PHOTO: Holland America Line's ms Maasdam. (Courtesy of Holland America Line)
Sixty passengers and 11 crew members on Holland America Line’s Maasdam reported gastrointestinal distress during the April 17-May 1 cruise.
That comes to more than 5 percent of the 1,138 passengers who were onboard, and so required reporting to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The predominant symptoms were vomiting and diarrhea, but the CDC said the cause was not yet known.
“During the 14-day April 17, 2015, Caribbean cruise aboard ms Maasdam a small number of guests reported to the infirmary with a common type of gastrointestinal illness,” Holland America said in a statement. “The pattern of cases was consistent with some guests embarking with the virus. Affected guests were asked to remain in their staterooms until their symptoms disappeared. Additional procedures, developed closely with the CDC, were immediately put into place to help prevent further cases.”
The ship was scheduled to depart at 5 p.m. May 1 on a 15-day Atlantic Coast cruise from Fort Lauderdale to Montreal.
A CDC Vessel Sanitation Program environmental health officer will board the ship in Fort Lauderdale to conduct an environmental health assessment and evaluate the outbreak and response activities. Stool specimens are being collected and will be shipped to the CDC lab for testing to determine the cause.
Holland America Line said it “works diligently to try and ensure that all onboard cooperate with established processes to help safeguard the health of others. This includes strict reporting requirements when symptoms appear, ongoing communications with guests explaining the protocols, and instructions to wash hands and use hand sanitizers frequently. In addition, Holland America Line cleans staterooms and public areas daily.”
Although the CDC hadn’t determined the outbreak was caused by norovirus, the symptoms are consistent with that stomach virus, the second most prevalent illness in the world next to the common cold.
This is the seventh outbreak on a cruise ship this year, with five confirmed as norovirus and two undetermined, according to the CDC’s VSP records.
Cruise ships are required to report the total number of gastrointestinal illness cases before the ship arrives at a U.S. port, and the information is publicly posted when the number exceeds 3 percent of the total number of passengers or crew onboard.
More by Theresa Norton
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