Stomach Virus Plagues World's Largest Cruise Ship

Miami -- Stomach illness has swept through a second cruise ship in less than one month, this time the world's largest passenger ship, Royal Caribbean's Freedom of the Seas.

Suspected norovirus sickened 338 passengers and 43 crew members during a seven-day cruise in the Caribbean that began last week, the company said. Those affected were treated with over-the-counter medication, and the ship, which can carry more than 5,200 people, returned to port here on Sunday as scheduled, according to the company.

Royal Caribbean said it has sanitized the ship thoroughly and will add two doctors and one nurse aboard future cruises, for a total of four doctors and four nurses.

Last month, more than 630 people aboard Carnival Cruise Lines' Liberty reported gastrointestinal illness, with norovirus also suspected.

This latest outbreak marks the 30th incident so far this year in which at least three percent of passengers or crew aboard cruise ships carrying more than 100 passengers have complained of gastrointestinal illness, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control. Nineteen such incidents were reported last year.

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