The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is investigating an outbreak on a luxury cruise ship after more than 150 people reported symptoms of gastrointestinal illness, including diarrhea and vomiting.
The ship, Queen Victoria, operated by Cunard Line, departed Southampton, England, on Jan. 11 on a 107-night cruise that included recent stops in Florida and San Francisco, according to the company’s website. The ship is scheduled to arrive in Honolulu on Monday.
The CDC said that as of Thursday, 129 passengers and 25 crew members had reported being sick on the ship. The agency said 1,824 passengers and 967 crew members were on board at the time of the outbreak.
The cause of the illnesses was unknown, the agency said.
In a statement, Cunard Line, which is based in Southampton, said “some guests had reported symptoms of gastrointestinal illness” on the ship, which arrived in San Francisco on Tuesday after stops in Mexico, Guatemala, Panama and Aruba .
The cruise line “immediately activated enhanced health and safety protocols to ensure the well-being of all guests and crew on board and these measures were effective,” the company said.
In response to the outbreak, the Queen Victoria crew has “increased cleaning and disinfection procedures” and has “isolated sick passengers and crew,” the CDC said.
The agency said it was remotely monitoring the situation, including “reviewing the ship’s response to outbreaks and sanitation procedures.”
The ship left San Francisco for Honolulu on Wednesday and was traveling off the west coast of the United States on Thursday, according to ship-tracking website Cruise Mapper.
After arriving in Hawaii on Monday, the ship’s scheduled stops include Fiji, New Zealand and Australia.
Although enteric illness can spread quickly on cruise ships, outbreaks are rare, according to the CDC
A high-profile outbreak occurred in 2014, when 595 passengers and 50 crew members on Royal Caribbean’s Explorer of the Seas became ill with bouts of vomiting and diarrhea, forcing the ship to return early to New Jersey.
Acute gastrointestinal illnesses, including the highly contagious norovirus, are linked to cruise ships because close contact between passengers and crew members increases the number of group contacts, the agency said.
People who are infected when they board the ship can spread viruses to other passengers and crew.
Public health officials monitor illnesses on cruise ships so that “outbreaks are identified and reported more quickly on a cruise ship than on land,” the CDC said.