July 06 2006

THE owners of a cruise ship at the centre of a second vomiting bug outbreak yesterday said they would rip out many of the ship’s carpets in an attempt to wipe out the infection.

As the Black Prince returned to Leith yesterday, an investigation was under way into the latest outbreak which left more than 100 of the liner’s passengers sick.
The ship left Edinburgh for an excursion to Greenland and Iceland on June 22.
Last month 136 passengers on the same vessel were diagnosed with a strain of the Norovirus bug while on a cruise to Norway.

The Norovirus causes vomiting and diarrhoea which usually last up to 48 hours.
It comes in many different strains and it is not yet clear if this strain is the same as the one that affected the ship last month. Yesterday, the ship’s operators, Fred Olsen, said the vessel would remain at Leith for two days for extensive cleaning including the removal of carpets.

Nigel Lingard, Fred Olsen spokesman, said: “Across the course of the cruise, 105 people fell ill. It means that these people were confined to their cabins with gastroenteritis. The ship’s doctors understand this is routine and 48 hours’ isolation is the best thing to avoid spreading the virus.

“We will be delaying the next cruise by two days to give the ship a deep steam clean and will use anti-viral chemical treatment on soft furnishings. We will also be replacing many of the ship’s public area carpets.”

NHS Lothian has reconvened the incident management team that was created to tackle June’s outbreak. The team will assess the situation and make recommendations to the cruise liner’s operator.

Environmental health workers from Edinburgh City Council were joined by a representative from NHS Lothian and a member of the Maritime and Coastguard Agency to take samples in a bid to identify which strain of Norovirus is to blame.

Dr Janet Stevenson, public health consultant for NHS Lothian, said: “At this stage, we have no information as to whether this outbreak is connected to previous episodes of disease on board this vessel. Tests will be carried out on samples to establish which type of Norovirus is involved.”
All 210 ship staff will now be screened.