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12 Gastrointestinal Illness Outbreaks While Onboard

May 24, 2023 • 3:37 pm CDT
by Joe Mustang
(Vax Before Travel)

The U.S. CDC's Vessel Sanitation Program (VSP) requires cruise ships to log and report the number of passengers and crew who say they have symptoms of gastrointestinal illness.

As of May 24, 2023, the VSP has reported 12 gastrointestinal outbreaks on cruise ships.

Data are from ship surveillance reports and CDC-led investigations.

People often associate cruise ships with acute gastrointestinal illnesses such as norovirus. However, acute gastrointestinal illness is relatively infrequent on cruise ships.

Norovirus is a very contagious virus that causes 19 to 21 million illnesses annually in the U.S.

You can get norovirus from an infected person, contaminated food or water, or by touching contaminated surfaces. The virus causes your stomach or intestines or both to get inflamed (acute gastroenteritis).

This leads you to have stomach pain, nausea, and diarrhea and to throw up, says the CDC.

According to a CDC norovirus tracking network, there were 735 outbreaks reported from August through April 23.

There were 907 during the same period of the 2021-2022 norovirus season.

While vaccines against norovirus diseases are in demand, noroviruses' genetic and antigenic diversity presents challenges. As a result, as of May 2023, no norovirus vaccines are authorized.