The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has announced that  norovirus was the cause of over 400 illnesses that forced a Celebrity Cruise’s ship back to Charleston, South Carolina during a voyage to the Caribbean.

According to CNN, the Celebrity Cruises’ outbreak sickened 435 of 1,838 passengers, as recounted by Cynthia Martinez, Celebrity spokeswoman.

According to the CDC norovirus "can spread from contact with contaminated food or drink, by touching objects infected by people who are already sick, or through close contact with people who are infected."

Outbreaks of gastrointestinal illness, and norovirus in particular, are not new to the cruise industry.   In fact, the phenomenon prompted the CDC to create and oversee a "vessel sanitation program (VSP)."  The VSP "assists the cruise ship industry to prevent and control the introduction, transmission, and spread of gastrointestinal illnesses on cruise ships."

Usual symptoms of norovirus infection include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain.  Headache and low-grade fever may also accompany this illness.

The illness caused by norovirus is usually brief.  It develops 24 to 48 hours after contaminated food or water is ingested and lasts for 24 to 60 hours.  People infected with norovirus usually recover in two to three days without serious or long-term health effects.  In some cases, though, severe dehydration, malnutrition, and even death can result from norovirus infection, especially among children and among older and immunocompromised adults in hospitals and nursing homes.