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Royal Caribbean Says 105 Passengers Taken Ill on Ship

Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. said 105 passengers on its Vision of the Seas cruise liner became ill with a stomach bug thought to be norovirus.

The ship, which arrived in Port Everglades, Florida, this morning, will depart on schedule at 4:30 p.m. this afternoon, Miami-based Royal Caribbean said today in a statement. The vessel has gone through “an extensive and thorough sanitizing onboard” and inside the terminal, the company said.

“An elevated number,” or more than 5 percent of the vessel’s 1,991 passengers were taken ill, in addition to three of the 772 crew members, the company said. Those affected are being treated with over-the-counter medication.

A new norovirus, identified in Sydney last March, has sickened more than 1 million people worldwide, often in nursing homes and cruise ships. There were 16 outbreaks of the virus reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2012, affecting 2,791 of 10.3 million travelers who embarked on a cruise ship from a U.S. port, according to the Cruise Lines International Association.

“Historic incidence rates of gastrointestinal illness aboard cruise ships are low,” said David Peikin, director of public affairs for the trade group. Cruise lines take steps to keep sick passengers off ships and prevent the spread of illnesses onboard when they occur, he said.

The norovirus can be spread from an infected person to food or water, or by touching contaminated surfaces. It causes the stomach or intestines, or both, to become inflamed, leading to pain, nausea, and diarrhea, according to the CDC.

Carnival Corp.’s 14-deck Queen Mary 2 sailed into Brooklyn Jan. 3, after 204 passengers and 16 crew came down with suspected norovirus. A week earlier, Carnival’s Emerald Princess arrived in Fort Lauderdale after 189 passengers and 31 crew had developed the same symptoms, the CDC said.

Royal Caribbean fell 3 percent to $33.31 at the close in New York. The shares have dropped 2 percent this year.

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