Reporting Death or Illness on Ships

What You Need to Know

CDC and federal regulations require the master of a ship sailing from a non-US port destined to a US port to immediately report any death or certain illnesses among the ship’s passengers or crew, including travelers who have disembarked or were removed from the ship due to illness or death.

Note: This page does not include information related to COVID-19 reporting for cruise ships. For information on COVID-19 reporting for cruise ships, see Guidance for Cruise Ships on the Mitigation and Management of COVID-19.

Required Reporting

Ships are required to report the following information to CDC:

  • Death
  • Quarantinable diseases (both suspected or confirmed) listed in the President’s Executive Order: cholera, diphtheria, infectious tuberculosis, plague, smallpox, yellow fever, viral hemorrhagic fevers, severe acute respiratory syndromes, novel influenza viruses, and measles.
  • Signs and symptoms of serious diseases of public health interest are included in the Federal Regulations. Ships are required to report based on one or more of the scenarios below:

Scenario A

Scenario A

Fever* accompanied by one or more of the following:

  • skin rash,
  • difficulty breathing or suspected or confirmed pneumonia,
  • persistent cough or cough with bloody sputum,
  • decreased consciousness or confusion of recent onset,
  • new unexplained bruising or bleeding (without previous injury),
  • persistent vomiting (other than sea sickness),
  • headache with a stiff neck;

Fever* accompanied by one or more of the following:

  • skin rash,
  • difficulty breathing or suspected or confirmed pneumonia,
  • persistent cough or cough with bloody sputum,
  • decreased consciousness or confusion of recent onset,
  • new unexplained bruising or bleeding (without previous injury),
  • persistent vomiting (other than sea sickness),
  • headache with a stiff neck;

Scenario B

Scenario B

Fever* that has persisted for more than 48 hours;

Fever* that has persisted for more than 48 hours;

Scenario C

Scenario C

Acute gastroenteritis, which means either:

  • diarrhea, defined as three or more episodes of loose stools in a 24-hour period or what is above normal for the individual, or
  • vomiting accompanied by one or more of the following: one or more episodes of loose stools in a 24-hour period, abdominal cramps, headache, muscle aches, or fever*;

Acute gastroenteritis, which means either:

  • diarrhea, defined as three or more episodes of loose stools in a 24-hour period or what is above normal for the individual, or
  • vomiting accompanied by one or more of the following: one or more episodes of loose stools in a 24-hour period, abdominal cramps, headache, muscle aches, or fever*;

Scenario D

Scenario D

Symptoms or other indications of communicable disease, as the Director may announce through posting of a notice in the Federal Register. CDC will notify partners in applicable industries and post on the CDC website.

Symptoms or other indications of communicable disease, as the Director may announce through posting of a notice in the Federal Register. CDC will notify partners in applicable industries and post on the CDC website.

* Medical staff should consider someone to have a fever if the ill person feels warm to the touch, gives a history of feeling feverish, or has an actual measured temperature of 100.4 °F [38 °C]) or greater.

How to Report

Based on the criteria in the table below, download the appropriate form, or send an email using the links found under the “How to Report” column. In addition, see detailed instructions for reporting located below the table.

Reporting Death or Illness on Ships: How to Report
Vessel Type Illness or Death How to Report
Non-cruise ships arriving from a non-US port (include cargo, container, tanker, bulk carriers, offshore ships, military/research, and other special purpose ships) All Illnesses and Deaths Fill out CDC’s Maritime Conveyance Illness or Death Investigation Form [PDF – 4 pages].
Cruise ships and passenger ferries arriving from a non-US port Gastrointestinal (GI) Illness1 Through CDC’s Maritime Illness Database and Reporting System (MIDRS). Email CDC’s Vessel Sanitation Program (VSP) if you need access to this system.
Legionnaires’ Disease Send an email to CDC’s Respiratory Diseases Branch (RDB).
All Other Illnesses (non-Legionnaires’ & non-GI) Fill out CDC’s Maritime Conveyance Illness or Death Investigation Form [PDF – 4 pages].
Deaths

[1] Gastrointestinal Illness (GI) includes the diseases of norovirus, Shigella, Salmonella, hepatitis A, hepatitis E, or “suspected” hepatitis.

Note:

Instructions for Reporting Deaths and Illnesses

  Please ensure that any personally identifiable information (PII)* sent via email is password-protected.  Sections 1-4 do not contain PII.

STEP
1
Download the Maritime Conveyance Illness or Death Investigation Form  [PDF – 4 pages]. Please make sure you are using the most updated form. Use a separate form for each ill or deceased person.
STEP
2
Complete Sections 1-4. For details on what’s  required to be reported, see Required Reporting.
STEP
3

Submit the form by clicking on the “Send Via Email” button on the form. This form will be sent to the appropriate CDC Quarantine Stations and CDC’s Maritime Activity.

Note: Any death, including those attributed to a non-infectious cause (e.g., cardiovascular events or injuries), that occurs on board a cruise ship sailing from a non-US port destined to a US port must be reported to CDC immediately.

STEP
4
If contacted by a CDC Quarantine Station after your form is submitted:

If a CDC Quarantine Station contacts you for additional information, complete Section 5 (General Information about Ill or Deceased Person). Please Do NOT submit Section 5 unless the quarantine section asks you to do so.

Note: Because this section contains PII*print out this section of the form and fill it out by hand.

STEP
5
Submit Section 5 only by scan or telephone.

*PII is any information that can be used alone or in combination to identify an individual. This includes names, addresses, phone numbers, dates (birth, hospital admission, travel), identifying numbers (passport, social security, driver’s license, alien), medical records, photographs, and for rare diseases, geographic locations.