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The gut bug that cut short a Royal Caribbean cruise last week and sickened nearly 700 passengers and crew is a new strain of norovirus that has become something of a scourge of the seas and everywhere else. Federal health officials on Thursday confirmed that the norovirus that infected passengers and crew on the Explorer of the Seas is the GII.4 Sydney strain, a notorious germ first detected less than two years ago. Bernadette Burden, a spokeswoman for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said “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.”

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