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Monday, 27 January 2014

Cruise ship runs - the tourist industry spoiler

Cruise ship outbreaks of nausea, vomiting and diarrhea have been a hallmark of the industry almost since the birth of the industry.  Not a hidden secret, but not something that is included in the tourist brochures – seven days of sun, surf, seafood with great views of the inside of a bedroom and bathroom. 

The vessel sanitation program of CDC provides details on current and past outbreaks going back twenty years.  Also on the website are some historical documents on the history of cruise ships outbreaks http://www.cdc.gov/nceh/vsp/ and the development of a formalized program.  Based on reducing numbers of outbreaks through the last decade, some success appears to be happening.  The office maintains responsibility for cruises that land at any point in a US port.  Returning Alaskan cruises with destinations in Vancouver may not be included in surveillance where no outbreak was identified prior to the last US port.  

Canada however lacks such rigorous surveillance.   Places like the port of Vancouver have protocols for ships entering the port with GI outbreaks, but fall between various jurisdictions relative to their oversight.

Both countries have other dirty hidden secrets from tourists.  Visitors to national parks on both sides of the border may be greeted not only by beautiful scenario and wildlife – but outbreaks of Norovirus during peak summer season are common and rarely reported yet identified. Tracking national park outbreaks is best done through popular and social media, such as the 2013 Yellowstone and Grand Teton parks.

Canada’s favourite national parks are not immune, with outbreaks investigated on both sides of the BC-Alberta border in documents that are in very grey literature and inaccessible.  

Norovirus has a routine annual visit like influenza, the current cruise ship attention merely highlights again. Norovirus running to a bathroom near year    

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