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Norovirus Outbreak On Cruise To San Francisco; Ship Docked At Pier 27 For Scrubdown

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) -- It wasn't just sea sickness that affected a group of passengers aboard a cruise ship now docked in San Francisco.

The Centers for Disease Control confirmed a norovirus outbreak was responsible for sickening 135 passengers and 16 crew members aboard a Star Princess voyage. Those numbers represent about five percent of the people on the ship.

The voyage began on April 29 and ended Thursday. The ship is docked at Pier 27, where Chopper 5 video captured crews disinfecting the deck.

Representatives of the cruise ship company confirmed that a number of passengers came down with a "gastrointestinal illness."

During the trip, medical officials "Collected stool specimens from passenger and crew gastrointestinal illness cases for testing," according to the CDC. Primary symptoms were vomiting and diarrhea.

Passengers who spoke to KPIX 5 said they had been informed of the Norovirus outbreak and told to call 911 if they felt ill. They say they were warned against touching anything that another passenger might pick up.

"They stopped letting us get our own food in the buffet line," said David Fox. "They served us everything... even the packets of spelnda that you use in your coffee."

Four CDC officials were due to meet the ship once it hit port to "conduct an environmental health assessment and evaluate the outbreak and response activities."

"The good news is that through our response procedures developed in conjunction with the CDC, new case presentations trended downward and we didn't have any ill guests by the end of the cruise. Today, while the ship is in port, we will be delaying embarkation for the next cruise in order to conduct a thorough cleaning of the vessel while there are no guests on board," said Princess Cruises Manager of Media Relations Karen Candy.

According to the app Sickeweather, which is designed to notify people of illnesses in their area, there were at least four reported cases of norovirus in the Bay Area prior to the ship's arrival.

"You can get norovirus from an infected person, contaminated food or water, or by touching contaminated surfaces. The virus causes your stomach or intestines or both to get inflamed. This leads you to have stomach pain, nausea, and diarrhea and to throw up," according to the CDC, which recommends thorough hand sanitation and washing of food to prevent the spread of the disease.

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