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Outbreak of Gastrointestinal Illness Aboard Ocean Princess

Backgrounder

CDC Makes Recommendations for Preventive Health Measures to Curb Gastrointestinal Illness Outbreak Aboard the Ocean Princess in Alaska

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC’s) Vessel Sanitation Program has responded to an outbreak of gastrointestinal illness aboard the Princess Cruises’ Ocean Princess with recommendations for aggressive sanitation measures. These measures are currently being implemented by the owners of the vessel in order to halt the spread of disease. CDC is also coordinating with the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services and Health Canada.

On May 26, Princess Cruises notified CDC of an outbreak of gastrointestinal illness aboard the Ocean Princess. The ship was en route from Vancouver, British Columbia, to Seward, Alaska. Of the 2,053 passengers on board, at least 40 became ill with gastrointestinal symptoms. In addition, 12 of the 852 crew members also became ill. The following week, on a cruise from Seward, Alaska, to Vancouver, British Columbia, 88 of the 2,040 passengers, and 39 of the crew members became ill. Laboratory analysis has confirmed that the illness was caused by a Norwalk-like virus.

In response to the outbreak and CDC recommendations, the cruise line has implemented a number of aggressive housekeeping measures. The cruise line also has issued public health advisories to the following groups:

(1) passengers and crew aboard the vessel,

(2) passengers and crew who have returned from cruises, and

(3) passengers and crew preparing for upcoming Princess cruises in Alaska.

Princess Cruises is providing daily updates to CDC. As of June 5, the Ocean Princess reported no cases of gastrointestinal illness among passengers and two among crew. The current cruise began in Vancouver, British Columbia, on June 1 and ends in Seward, Alaska, on June 8.

CDC began inspecting cruise ships in the 1970s as a cooperative effort with the cruise ship industry. The program assists the industry in developing and implementing comprehensive sanitation programs to minimize the risk for gastrointestinal diseases.

Additional information about CDC’s Vessel Sanitation Program is available at http://www.cdc.gov/nceh/vsp.

Additional information on gastrointestinal diseases is available at http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dvrd/gastro.htm.

Information on Norwalk-like viruses is available at http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/pdf/rr/rr5009.pdf.

CDC protects people’s health and safety by preventing and controlling diseases and injuries; enhances health decisions by providing credible information on critical health issues; and promotes healthy living through strong partnerships with local, national, and international organizations.

For more information, CDC’s Vessel Sanitation Program can be reached at vsp@cdc.gov.


 
 
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