The Prevalence of Foodborne Cruise Ship Illness
The following article reproduced from the December 9, 2017 Food Safety News gives a very good review of the prevalence of foodborne cruise ship illness and how such statistics are generated:
The holiday cruise season is steaming toward the New Year having logged less than one foodborne illness outbreak a month thus far in 2017 that met the CDC’s criteria for public posting.
As of Dec. 8, there had been 10 such outbreaks involving nine ships from five cruise lines, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The percentage of passengers sickened on the cruises ranges from 3.3 percent on a Holland America ship to 22.8 percent on a Lindblad Expeditions ship.
Holland America has had the most outbreaks worthy of posting, according to the CDC’s Vessel Sanitation Program (VSP) website. The cruise lines with outbreaks so far this year that meet the criteria for CDC posting, along with the number of passengers sickened, total number of passengers on board and the percentage of passengers sickened are:
- Celebrity 1 cruise 173 of 3,034 (5.7%)
- Holland America 5 cruises
- 82 of 2,143 (3.832%)
- 73 of 2,210 (3.30%)
- 167 of 2,086 (8.02%)
- 46 of 1,473 (3.12%)
- 68 of 1,480 (4.59%)
- Lindblad Expeditions 1 cruise 13 of 57 (22.81%)
- Oceana 1 cruise 23 of 639 (3.60%)
- Princess 2 cruises 157 of 2,016 (7.79%) and 184 of 2,957 (6.22%)
As has been the case since at least 1994, the vast majority of outbreaks on cruise ships for which a cause is determined involve norovirus. For 2017 so far, seven outbreaks were norovirus and one was C. perfringens enterotoxin. The cause was undetermined in two outbreaks.
In 2016 the CDC posted information on 13 foodborne illness outbreaks on cruise ships. The cause was undetermined in one outbreak in 2016. One outbreak was from E. coli, 10 were from norovirus and one involved both norovirus and E. coli.
The CDC only posts cruise ship outbreaks when they meet the following criteria:
Fall within the purview of the Vessel Sanitation Program (VSP);
Are sailing on voyages from 3-21 days;
Are carrying 100 or more passengers; and
Are cruise ships in which 3 percent or more of passengers or crew reported symptoms of diarrheal disease to the ships medical staff during the voyage.
“When sailing from a foreign port to a U.S. port, cruise ships participating in the VSP are required to report the total number of gastrointestinal illness cases –including zero (cases) – evaluated by the (ship’s) medical staff at least 24 hours before the ship arrives at the U.S. port,” according to the CDC.
“VSP also requires cruise ships to send a separate notification when the GI illness count exceeds 2 percent of the total number of passengers or crew onboard.”
Types of Food Borne Illness
Regardless of how it is classified, whether referred to as food poisoning, influenza, norovirus or salmonella such illness involves the ingestion of contaminated, spoiled, or toxic food or water. The symptoms of such illness often will include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, fever, dehydration or bloody urine. There are a number of strains of foodborne illness. They include Salmonella; E. Coli; Hepatitis, Listeria; Norovirus or Shigella.
Proving Liability for Food Borne Illness
To persuade a jury of the cruise line’s fault, a plaintiff must be able to prove that the illness sustained resulted from exposure to food or sanitary conditions on the cruise ship. Accordingly, the involvement of public health authorities such as the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) often play a key role in determining causation. A public health authority can provide an important epidemiological link to help make the plaintiff’s case. Expert witnesses are also used to support the case. Testimony from physicians, epidemiologists, microbiologists and other experts are used to provide material evidence regarding a food borne illness. Ultimately, the starting point for proof of liability must be some evidence of negligent sanitization practices. Because proof of such illness and injuries often involves difficult questions of negligence and causation it is vital to immediately consult with an experienced cruise ship injury attorney such as the lawyers at Charlip Law Group, LC.
All incidents of cruise ship food borne illness should be immediately evaluated by an experienced cruise line injury attorney. Such incidents require a complete and timely investigation and legal action to be commenced within one year of injury. Charlip Law Group, LC has experience in such cases and is available to assist you should you unfortunately experience such an incident.
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