- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 27, 2002

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) At least 60 persons on the Disney cruise ship Magic have contracted a flulike illness this week, even after the vessel was scrubbed because of an earlier outbreak, officials said yesterday.
The ship was disinfected Saturday after 275 persons became sick on the Magic's last seven-day trip. The source of the virus that caused the illness has not been determined, Disney Cruise Line spokesman Mark Jaronski said.
The outbreak comes on the heels of a similar, but not necessarily related, infection on the cruise ship Amsterdam of the Holland America Line.
The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta was investigating and should have test results identifying the virus aboard the Magic by the end of the week, spokeswoman Bernadette Burden said.
Mr. Jaronski said about 2,400 passengers and 950 crew members were aboard the current Magic cruise, which left Saturday night from Port Canaveral, about 50 miles east of Orlando, on a Caribbean tour. The 964-foot ship spent yesterday at Grand Cayman.
A cruise, where hundreds of passengers and crew mingle in close quarters for days or weeks, can provide ideal conditions for a virus to spread.
The illness on the ship is believed to be caused by a germ called a "Norwalk-like" virus.
It is spread through food and water and close contact with infected people or things they have touched. It can cause diarrhea, stomach pain and vomiting for up to two days.
Despite Saturday's disinfection, the infections are not expected to vanish.
"The federal authorities said this is not the type of thing you turn on and off," Mr. Jaronski said yesterday. "It's more of a situation where it slowly abates."
He said person-to-person contact "seems to be the biggest variable."
The Norwalk virus and a group of Norwalk-like viruses are among many common micro-organisms that can cause intestinal diseases, according to the CDC.
In May, a Norwalk-like virus infected more than 100 people at a London hospital and sickened 38 British marines stationed in Af-ghanistan.
A Norwalk-like virus also is suspected of sickening more than 500 passengers and crew aboard the Holland America Line cruise ship Amsterdam the past few weeks. Last week, Holland America canceled a 10-day cruise out of Port Everglades to allow for a thorough decontamination of the ship.
The CDC said Saturday it did not suspect that the outbreaks on the Magic and Amsterdam were intentional or related.
"These are two separate incidents," Miss Burden said. "There are no direct links."
Meanwhile, nearly a dozen people fell ill aboard the Amsterdam's sister vessel, which arrived in San Diego on Monday. About 10 passengers on the Statendam complained of fever, nausea and other flulike symptoms.
Earlier this month, 42 passengers on a cruise to Hawaii also became sick aboard the 720-foot Statendam. And in July, 176 people aboard the Holland America ship Ryndam became ill during a voyage in the Gulf of Alaska.
The virus is named for a gastrointestinal outbreak in Norwalk, Ohio, 30 years ago.


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