Norwegian cruise ship quarantined off Mauritius coast due to possible cholera outbreak

The Norwegian Dawn cruise ship, part of Norwegian Cruise Line, is currently quarantined off the coast of Mauritius. This piece in USA Today by Zach Wichter first included "cholera" in the title ("Norwegian cruise quarantined due to cholera cases on board," which is still the title on X/Twitter) but has changed the wording to: "Norwegian cruise quarantined due to stomach illness cases on board." 

The body of the piece, however, still mentions cholera as a possible reason for the quarantine:

"During Norwegian Dawn's Feb. 13, 2024 South Africa voyage, a small number of guests experienced mild symptoms of a stomach-related illness. Upon the ship's return to Port Louis, Mauritius, the vessel's management team met with local authorities to confirm precautions and actions were being taken to ensure the wellbeing of all on board," a statement from a Norwegian spokesperson said. "Due to additional testing being required by local authorities before being allowed entry, the government of Mauritius has delayed disembarkation for the current cruise and embarkation for the next cruise by two days to Feb. 27, 2024." . . . 

While on the ground in Mauritius, USA TODAY and a group of journalists scheduled to depart on a press itinerary Sunday, heard the stomach illness was suspected to be cholera.

"We have elevated our sanitation procedures aboard the ship as part of our routine measures to ensure a safe environment for all on board and will continue to take any necessary measures to protect our guests, crew and destinations we visit," the spokesperson added.

The New York State Health Department provides some information about cholera:

What is cholera? Cholera is a bacterial disease that causes diarrhea (loose stool/poop) and is caused by the bacteria calledVibrio cholerae. Although only a few cases are recognized in the United States each year, many cases are identified each year in portions of Africa, South and Central America, and Southeast Asia.

Who gets cholera? While cholera is a rare disease in the U.S., people who may be at risk are those traveling to foreign countries where outbreaks are occurring and those who consume raw or undercooked seafood from warm coastal waters that may be exposed to sewage contamination. In both instances, the risk is small. Individuals living in places with inadequate water treatment, poor sanitation, and inadequate hygiene (cleanliness) are at a greater risk for cholera.

How is cholera spread? The cholera bacteria is passed through feces (poop). It is spread by eating or drinking food or water contaminated by the feces (poop) of an infected person. This occurs more often in underdeveloped countries lacking proper water supplies and sewage disposal. It is not likely that cholera is spread directly from one person to another.

What are the symptoms of cholera and when do they appear? People infected with cholera may experience mild to severe watery diarrhea (loose stool/poop), vomiting, and dehydration (loss of water in the body causing weakness or dizziness). The symptoms may appear from a few hours to five days after eating or drinking contaminated food or water.

It's beginning to look a lot like the 19th century! Add this to my already long list of the reasons I refuse to step foot on a cruise ship. Stay safe out there, folks! 

See also: The world, as mapped by frequency of cholera cases