More than 300 on cruise ship sickened with mysterious illness

Hundreds of passengers and more than a dozen crew members got sick on a Ruby Princess voyage from February 26 to March 5 (Picture: Port of Galveston/Facebook)

More than 300 passengers and crew members got sick with a mystery illness aboard a cruise ship.

The outbreak happened on Princess Cruises’ Ruby Princess during a voyage from Texas to Mexico and back from February 26 to March 5.

Of the 2,881 passengers, 284 reported being ill, which is nearly 10%, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Among the 1,159 crew members, 34 got sick, which is about 3%.

The predominant symptoms were vomiting and diarrhea, according to the CDC investigation. As of Tuesday, the cause was ‘unknown’.

The Ruby Princess embarked on a seven-day Caribbean voyage after informing passengers of the prior illness outbreak

Upon learning of the outbreak, crew members made announcements and distributed notifications to guests informing them of the increased number of sick people on board.

Crew members also upped their cleaning and disinfecting operations and collected stool specimens from some sickened guests to send to a CDC lab for pathological testing.

The illness was likely due to norovirus, a Princess Cruises spokesperson told CBS News.

It is highly contagious and often dubbed the cruise ship virus. More than 90% of disease involving diarrhea on cruise ships is caused by norovirus, according to the CDC.

The Ruby Princess made headlines due to coronavirus outbreaks in 20202 (Picture: Getty Images)

Crew members instructed ill passengers to isolate in their cabins, the cruise spokesperson said.

Epidemiologists and environmental health officers with the CDC responded to the outbreak on March 5 in Galveston.

It was not clear if any passengers were hospitalized.

The Ruby Princess has already departed for another journey – a seven-day Caribbean tour, the cruise company told CBS News. Passengers were informed of the prior outbreak.

It is not the first time the Ruby Princess, which had its maiden voyage in 2008, has made headlines due to illnesses on the ship. It had multiple coronavirus outbreaks and one infamous sail in 2020 was found to be the source of more than 10% of early Covid-19 cases in Australia.

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