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News From the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
February 23, 2016

Cruise Ship Illness Declines

Author Affiliations

Copyright 2016 American Medical Association. All Rights Reserved. Applicable FARS/DFARS Restrictions Apply to Government Use.

JAMA. 2016;315(8):743. doi:10.1001/jama.2016.0733

Perceptions that cruise ships can be luxury breeding grounds for acute gastroenteritis outbreaks don’t hold water. A recent CDC report showed that from 2008 to 2014, only 0.18% of more than 73 million cruise passengers and 0.15% of some 28 million crew members reported symptoms of the illness.

Using laboratory data and records from cruise ships sailing in US jurisdiction, CDC researchers determined that shipboard cases of acute gastroenteritis have decreased, from 27.2 cases per 100 000 travel days in 2008 to 22.3 cases in 2014 (Freeland AL et al. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2016;65[1]:1-5). Among crew members, illness rates held steady at about 21 cases per 100 000 travel days, likely due to strict reporting and isolation requirements for sick ship staff.