Tourists imprisoned on cruise ship as 15 people contract stomach illness amid fears of 'Cholera outbreak'

Norwegian Dawn

Passengers have been isolating with a stomach illness that causes vomiting

Anna Barry

By Anna Barry

Published: 26/02/2024

- 14:51

Updated: 28/02/2024

- 07:33

It has been confirmed that the passengers were suffering from gastroenteritis, which can cause vomiting and diarrhoea

Tourists were left imprisoned on a cruise ship after a number of passengers onboard contracted an illness, with first reports suggesting it could have been cholera.

At least 15 people on the Norwegian Dawn were isolated with a stomach illness that has been found to have been gastroenteritis with port authorities now granting permission for the ship to dock in Port Louis, Mauritius.

The director of the Mauritius Ministry of Health revealed that the passengers had gastroenteritis, not cholera, with Dr Bhooshun Ori confirming that affected passengers have now "fully recovered".

Mauritian authorities had initially blocked the ship "to avoid any health risks", reported the BBC.

Cholera bacteria

Cholera is the infection is often mild or without symptoms, but can sometimes be severe and life-threatening


The Ministry of Health will provide medical assistance for those on the ship when they disembark.

The Mauritius Ports Authority said: "The health and safety of passengers as well as that of the country as a whole are of the utmost importance to the authorities."

Despite the uncertainty surrounding their health, passenger Mary Francovilla Dees, 69, told the BBC that despite the delay the atmosphere on the ship had been "fairly calm".

She revealed that cruisers kept themselves entertained by sitting by the pool, enjoying shows and hitting the bar.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said: “Cholera is an acute diarrhoeal illness caused by infection of the intestine with Vibrio cholerae bacteria. People can get sick when they swallow food or water contaminated with cholera bacteria.

”The infection is often mild or without symptoms, but can sometimes be severe and life-threatening.”

”About one in 10 people with cholera will experience severe symptoms, which, in the early stages, include profuse watery diarrhoea, sometimes described as ‘rice-water stools’, vomiting, thirst, leg cramps and restlessness or irritability.”

Health practitioners dealing with a cholera case should look for signs of dehydration when examining a patient with profuse watery diarrhoea.

Signs include a rapid heart rate, loss of skin elasticity, dry mucous membranes and low blood pressure.

The CDC warned: “People with severe cholera can develop severe dehydration, which can lead to kidney failure. If left untreated, severe dehydration can lead to shock, coma, and death within hours.”

The NHS said that people can catch cholera from drinking unclean water, eating food (particularly shellfish) that has been in unclean water, and eating food that's been handled by an infected person.

While the risk of getting it while travelling is "very small", holidaymakers can consult the NHS website for information on how to avoid it.

Woman experiencing stomach pain

Gastroenteritis can be very unpleasant, but it usually clears up by itself within a week


The NHS said: "It's mainly found in places without a clean water supply or modern sewage system, such as parts of Africa and Asia."

NHS Inform has provided information on gastroenteritis, which is what the cruise ship passengers were suffering with.

The medical experts described it as a "very common condition that causes diarrhoea and vomiting" and "usually caused by a bacterial or viral tummy bug".

NHS Inform said: "It affects people of all ages, but is particularly common in young children.

"Most cases in children are caused by a virus called rotavirus. Cases in adults are usually caused by norovirus (the ‘winter vomiting bug’) or bacterial food poisoning.

"Gastroenteritis can be very unpleasant, but it usually clears up by itself within a week. You can normally look after yourself or your child at home until you’re feeling better.

"Try to avoid going to your GP, as gastroenteritis can spread to others very easily. Phone 111 or your GP if you’re concerned or need any advice."

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