FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) -- A third U.S.-based cruise ship with an outbreak of stomach illness has sailed again after being decontaminated in South Florida.
The vessel Ruby Princess sailed Sunday from Fort Lauderdale's Port Everglades. It was one of three cruise ships that docked in Florida and Louisiana over the weekend with outbreaks of norovirus.
Port Everglades spokeswoman Ellen Kennedy told the South Florida Sun Sentinel (http://sunsent.nl/zJG6rk) that the Ruby Princess was cleaned Sunday and departed. Passengers were informed of the virus and cleanup as they waited to board.
Norovirus causes upset stomach, vomiting and diarrhea.
Princess Cruise Lines operates the ship and another, the Crown Princess, that sailed from Fort Lauderdale after cleaning.
Royal Caribbean's Voyager of the Sea left New Orleans a couple of hours late Saturday because of the same illness.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control maintains an online database of norovirus outbreaks on cruise ships at http://www.cdc.gov/nceh/vsp/surv/gilist.htm . Outbreaks of gastrointestinal illness on cruise ships participating in the CDC program are posted online by the CDC when they take place on voyages from three to 21 days, when the ships are carrying 100 or more passengers, and when 3 percent or more of passengers or crew reported symptoms of diarrheal disease to the ship's medical staff during the trip.
The CDC says that norovirus is highly contagious and spreads from person to person, through contaminated food or water, and by touching contaminated surfaces. Careful handwashing with soap and water is key to the prevention of the spread of norovirus. Contaminated surfaces must be cleaned and disinfected thoroughly to prevent continued spread of the disease.