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Ship Passenger and Crew Health Outcomes

Ask any hospital about infectious disease management and they probably tell you that "good health outcomes don't just happen, they are proactively managed through a series of carefully planned and executed steps". The first requirement in disease management is to identify each of the the factors that allows the disease to be transmitted from person to person. The second is to take the appropriate steps to prevent the spread of the disease in question.

The passenger and crew illness data contained on this web site is a fraction of the outcome data analyzed by this research study. One of the most important findings of this study is that the Vessel Sanitation Program is losing the war against infectious disease on cruise ships based, in part, on their own policy and process decisions along with their inability to control the very companies that fund their existence on a daily basis.

These facts are evident through the analysis of the raw illness data obtained from the CDC and the statistical summary data from this study . In conclusion, every passenger must be diligent and personally responsible for their own health while cruising, no matter how clean and sparkling the ship surfaces may seem.

Norovirus is the primary gastrointestinal disease on cruise ships over the last 10 years. This disease is highly contagious and is often spread by fecal contamination of objects, such as handrails, door handles, elevator buttons, cafeteria food utensils, and other items that has previously been touched by an infected person. An infected person may also transmit the virus to others by proximal contact to a sneeze, cough, vomit, or fecal matter.

Norovirus is a particularly difficult disease for cruise ship personnel as it has a particularly short incubation period (12-48 hours) before the passenger or crew member experiences actual symptoms and can contaminate literally hundreds of other passengers or crew before being confined to their quarters. The most important factor ignored by both the CDC and cruise lines is that a passener or crew member sheds the virus in their stool for up to two weeks after the disease is no longer symtomatic.

The CDC's and cruise lines reluctance to deal with gastrointestinal disease on a proactive has it's consequences—37 Gastrointestinal outbreaks during 2006 with more than 4200 passengers reported ill which translates to approximately 115 passengers (average) per outreak.

Cruise ship data excluded from these studies:

  • Voyages with less than 20 passengers.
  • Voyage that terminate (disembark) in non-U.S. ports
  • Same day voyages (those without an overnight stay).

Complete Data Period: 2001-0101 to 2006-0504
Outbreak Data Period: 2001-0101 to 2007-0218



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This page last reviewed: 2007-1209 17:14

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