Recently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”) issued a cruise ship illness outbreak alert for the Norwegian Gem, an over 3,600-passenger capacity ship in the Norwegian Cruise Line fleet. According to the alert, during a November 13-25, 2013, voyage, 111 passengers and 3 crew members (4.55% of the total number of people onboard) reported being ill with symptoms of vomiting and/or diarrhea. The cause of the outbreak is unknown, but our Florida maritime accident attorneys are waiting with anticipation for a discovery.
The report states that Norwegian Cruise Line responded to the outbreak by increasing the ship’s cleaning and disinfecting procedures and collecting specimens from ill passengers and crew for testing at the CDC’s National Calicivirus Laboratory. According to the CDC, Vessel Sanitation Program officers are monitoring the outbreak, which will continue into the ship’s subsequent voyage.
The CDC’s Vessel Sanitation Program (“VSP”) is designed to assist the cruise ship industry in preventing and controlling introduction, transmission, and spread of gastrointestinal illnesses, i.e. food poisoning, on cruise ships. Despite the CDC’s best efforts, however, health violations are common occurrences on many cruise ships. Improper storage, handling, and preparation of food onboard cruise ships is dangerous and can easily result in the spread of gastrointestinal illness. Gastrointestinal illnesses can cause vomiting, dizziness, diarrhea, dehydration, and, in very serious cases, death.