The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed yesterday that the bug that sickened almost 700 people on a Royal Caribbean Cruise last week and cut their trip short is a new strain of norovirus that is becoming troublesome for stomachs everywhere, by land and by sea.
The GII.4 Sydney strain is a notorious germ that first popped up about two years ago, federal officials say, and it’s proving to be quite the scourge.
“This particular strain emerged in late 2012 and quickly became the predominant strain causing outbreaks not only on cruise ships but also in land-based outbreaks,” said Bernadette Burden, a spokeswoman for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, according to NBC News.
Since it was first discovered in Australia in March 2012, the bug has been quite the globetrotter, says Dr. Jan Vinje, the head of the CDC lab that tests for norovirus. The reason it spread is that it mutates quickly, spinning off new strains here there and everywhere. That means even if you get it one year, you could catch a new strain a couple years later.
“Three years before that, we had a strain we dubbed New Orleans because that’s where it started,” he said.
This particular GII.4 Sydney strain is wily — it’s become the leading cause of all norovirus cases in the U.S., hitting particularly hard in places with close quarters like cruise ships and nursing homes. Or hey, a resort in New York that has to shut down for a week, reports the Associated Press.
What this all boils down to is you can get it on a boat, you can get it in a car while you’re eating green eggs and ham… NO ONE IS SAFE.