Today CNN is reporting an outbreak of norovirus on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship. Thus far, 66 individuals have been infected.
This virus, named for the city in which it was first discovered (Norwalk, OH), is the most common cause of acute gastroenteritis, colloquially known as "stomach flu", in the US, where it causes over 20 million infections annually.
Norovirus outbreaks on cruise ships (and in other locales, including national parks) are nothing new but pose huge societal problems because of the disruptions that ensue upon their arrival. When norovirus strikes--this, I know from personal experience--24 hours of so of one's life are going to be spent in the bathroom.
While the diarrhea is bad, it is the violent vomiting--which often seizes one suddenly--that, to me, is the worst aspect of this dreaded disease. The vomitus (what is vomited up) is highly infectious and hand washing with alcohol-based substances alone may not be enough to deactivate the virus.
There are no vaccines or anti-viral treatments for norovirus, though anti-nausea medications (e.g. Zofran) can be lifesavers.
Too bad there isn't a special "vomit powder", similar to what the maintenance staff would sprinkle on our vomit in school, for this despised virus.