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updated 3/12/2010 12:15:19 PM ET 2010-03-12T17:15:19

Health officials said Friday that nearly 50 passengers aboard an international cruise ship were stricken with vomiting and diarrhea. It was the same ship that last week was briefly placed under quarantine after hundreds of people were stricken with gastroenteritis.

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"At least 47 passengers on the Vision of the Seas, operated by Royal Caribbean International, were stricken by what we believe are noroviruses that cause gastroenteritis," a spokesman for the National Agency for Sanitary Vigilance said Friday. He spoke on condition of anonymity, in line with department policy.

The ship, docked in the port of Santos, was not placed under quarantine and the nearly 2,000 passengers aboard were allowed to leave since "no one was seriously ill and there was no danger of the disease spreading."

It was the Vision of the Seas' first cruise since last week, when 310 people came down with gastroenteritis caused by noroviruses, the spokesman said. After a temporary quarantine, the passengers were allowed to leave and the ship underwent a cleansing process.

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The ship will be cleansed again "but now that we are pretty sure that noroviruses are again to blame, we know what kind of cleaning agents to use," the spokesman said.

Noroviruses cause gastroenteritis — a common inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract. Norovirus typically is not life threatening and does not generally cause long-term effects.

The first case was detected Wednesday when the ship was heading to Santos its last stop on a weeklong cruise.

Although a breakdown of the nationalities of the passengers was not immediately available, Royal Caribbean spokesman Alexandre Raith said "the vast majority were Brazilian."

A statement by Royal Caribbean confirmed the number of stricken passengers but provided no detailed explanation on how gastroenteritis struck the same ship twice in a week.

In January last year at a port in Salvador in northeastern Brazil, hundreds of passengers on a Swiss-owned cruise ship were also stricken with severe vomiting and diarrhea caused by food poisoning.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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