Only 1% of norovirus outbreaks are on cruise ships, says CDC

By Jerry Limone
Norovirus outbreaks most often makes headlines when they happen on cruise ships, but these only account for about 1% of all reported outbreaks, according to a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

About 20 million people get sick from norovirus each year, according to the CDC Vital Signs report “Preventing Norovirus Outbreaks.”

In norovirus outbreaks for which investigators reported the source was food contamination, 70% are caused by infected food workers, CDC reported.

Of outbreaks caused by food workers, 54% involve touching ready-to-eat foods (i.e., food that is ready to be served without additional preparation, such as washed raw fruits and vegetables, baked goods or items that have already been cooked) with bare hands.

According to the CDC, observations of food service workers have shown that they practice proper hand washing only one out of four times. The CDC recommends that workers “wash hands carefully and often with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds, especially after using the restroom.”

“Norovirus often gets attention for outbreaks on cruise ships, but those account for only about 1% of all reported norovirus outbreaks,” the report said.

“Norovirus is very contagious, and outbreaks can occur anywhere people gather or food is served.”