Passengers on board the Golden Princess have been told to look for signs for a rare form of hepatitis. Symptoms include chills, vomiting as well as abdominal pain.
The warning is only for guests who were on the ship between February 8 and 15. A crewmember was diagnosed with hepatitis E and it can take 15 to 60 days for symptoms to develop after infection with an incubation period of around 40 days.
Other symptoms include appetite and weight loss, diarrhea, yellow skin and eyes, dark urine and pale faeces.
Princess Cruises informed the Department of Health and Human Services has sent letters to passengers who may be affected. But Victoria’s Chief Health Officer Professor Charles Guest said passengers are at very low risk and are unlikely to become unwell.
Hepatitis E is found in faeces and is spread via the faecal-oral route and while is uncommon in Australia, can be found in Central and Southeast Asia, North and West Africa and Mexico.
Professor Guest told The Age that the risk of transmission is low.
“This risk of transmission between the crew member and passengers is very low,” Professor Guest said.
“The cruise line has strict public health and hygiene policies to prevent the risk of spread of infections on board the ship, and the hepatitis E infection is rarely spread person-to-person,” he said.
Most people will get better without treatment while some children may be infected but won’t show any symptoms.
Anyone with concerns or symptoms should see their GP.