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Cruise line: 350 sick aboard ship in Caribbean

About 350 people who got sick a week into a Caribbean cruise were responding well to medicine, the cruise line said Tuesday. Celebrity Cruise spokeswoman Cynthia Martinez said 326 of the more than 1,800 passengers on the Celebrity Mercury began complaining Sunday of upset stomachs, vomiting and diarrhea. Martinez says 27 of the nearly 850 crew members also reported symptoms.

The ship left Charleston on Feb. 15. State officials said there has been an outbreak in norovirus cases across South Carolina but that it is not possible to say if that's what led to the ship's illnesses.

Martinez says the crew is conducting "enhanced cleaning" of the ship to prevent the spread of the illness.

An extra doctor and two nurses came aboard in St. Kitts, in the Leeward Islands, and will sail to Charleston, arriving early Friday.

It's not clear what caused the outbreak. Norovirus is often to blame for similar symptoms sweeping closed quarters like those on cruise ships, but a determination will have to until samples are tested.

Samples from ill passengers and crew are being sent to the Centers for Disease Control, said CDC spokesman Jay Dempsey. He said workers from the agency's Vessel Sanitation Program will meet the ship when it arrives in Charleston.
 
 

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