Norovirus Hits Cruise Ship Six Months After Earlier Outbreak

PHOTO: A Crown Princess cruise ship is shown in this photo from princess.com. The CDC reported 172 people have been sickened by the norovirus aboard a Crown Princess cruise ship. Playcrownprincess.com
WATCH Another Cruise Ship Docking Early With More Than 170 Sick Passengers

A cruise ship has been hit with an outbreak of norovirus just six months after dealing with another bout of the stomach bug earlier this year.

The Crown Princess ship docked in San Pedro, in Southern California today as passengers and crew members dealt with an outbreak of the flu-like norovirus. The virus has sickened at least 172 people on board, according to a report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The same ship, part of the Princess Cruises fleet, had another outbreak of the gastrointestinal virus in April according to the CDC. In that outbreak 152 people fell ill with either a norovirus or E. coli infection.

The CDC was planning to send in an environmental health officer to the ship today to evaluate the outbreak and the ship's response. The CDC said they will also send additional personnel to help with the cleaning and disinfecting of the ship.

Officials from Princess Cruises said in a statement they have enacted "stringent disinfecting protocols, which includes an extensive deep cleaning" before the ship sets out on another voyage.

The ship has a total of 4,167 people on board, including 3,007 passengers.

"As it is the cold and flu season, when the stomach flu circulates on land, we encourage all of our guests to be diligent in following the widely accepted practices of frequent hand washing with soap and water and the use of hand sanitizers," read a portion of the company's statement.

The ship, which was met in San Pedro by CDC officials, had been on a 28-day cruise that visited Hawaii and Tahiti, according to The Associated Press.

The norovirus is an extremely contagious gastrointestinal virus that infects between 19 million and 21 million Americans and contributes to 570 to 800 deaths every year, according to the CDC.

To avoid catching the virus, the CDC recommends practicing proper hygiene by washing hands carefully and taking care to clean fruits and vegetables before eating them. Shellfish that are not fully cooked can also lead to a norovirus infection, according to the CDC.