More than 100 Viking cruise passengers get sick in norovirus outbreak

More than 100 Viking passengers became sick during a recent cruise, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.

The public health agency said 110 of the Viking Neptune ship’s 838 guests reported being ill – more than 13% of all passengers on board – during a sailing that ended Tuesday, as well as 9 out of 455 crew members, according to its website. Their main symptoms were abdominal cramps, vomiting and diarrhea.

The CDC said the causative agent was norovirus.

Viking did not immediately respond to USA TODAY’s request for comment.

Viking and the ship’s crew took steps such as implementing heightened cleaning and disinfection processes “according to the ship’s outbreak prevention and response plan,” and sharing updates on the number of gastrointestinal illness cases with the CDC Vessel Sanitation Program twice a day, the agency said.

Gastrointestinal illness on cruise ships dropped dramatically during the COVID-19 pandemic, but cases have risen again as the industry has bounced back.

The CDC has logged 13 outbreaks on cruise ships that met its threshold for public notification so far this year, more than any year between 2017 and 2019. In all other 2023 outbreaks, norovirus was listed as the cause.

Norovirus is often associated with cruises, but Ben Lopman, a professor of epidemiology at Emory University’s Rollins School of Public Health, told USA TODAY in February that cruises represent a “tiny minority of norovirus outbreaks.” Most happen in health care settings such as nursing homes, he said.

Nathan Diller is a consumer travel reporter for USA TODAY based in Nashville.

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