The Vessel Sanitation Program (VSP), in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Public Health Service, has recently created new educational materials for the cruise line industry.
The VSP does a plethora of things, such as inspections of ships, on-board investigations during acute gastroenteritis (AGE) outbreaks, educating the public, and offering regular training to cruise line staff on the prevention and control of the pathogens that cause AGE. The goal of each of these activities is to protect public health, in collaboration with the cruise line industry. We have mentioned some of the important work they do on this blog before.
Norovirus is the most common cause of AGE on ships, but there are other causes, such as the bacterial agents E. coli, Shigella, and Campylobacter. We’d also like to point out that while norovirus outbreaks on cruise ships tend to receive significant attention from the news media, the cruise lines actually do a very good job in preventing and containing AGE outbreaks among their passengers and crew.
For example, a recent publication from the VSP reviewed six years of cruising in the US, which transported over 73 million passengers on more than 32,000 voyages. They found only 129,678 passenger cases of AGE, which may sound like a lot, but that amounts to 0.01% of the estimated number of norovirus infections that happened in the US during that same time frame, and out of 29,197 voyages, only 0.5% of them experienced an outbreak of AGE. As low as those percentages are, the VSP and the cruise line industry are continuing to work towards making them lower.
These new materials are a series of digital modules geared towards managerial staff on ships, and are intended to be supplemental training on AGE outbreak prevention and response. More specifically, this VSP AGE Outbreak and Response Training has lessons tailored to each functional group of employees working around a ship, and in the demo version of Module 1, you can toggle between different roles for customized content. These modules are also available offline, meaning the ships can use them when they are away from port and not incur web access costs at sea.
These modules would also be informative for those interested in the best practices used in this industry, and how AGE can be prevented.
You can also click here for more information about healthy cruising.