Vessel Sanitation Program – Prevent Norovirus Outbreaks

A division of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and operating under the authority of the Public Health Service Act, the Vessel Sanitation Program (VSP) assists the cruise ship industry in preventing and controlling the introduction, transmission, and spread of various gastrointestinal illnesses* due to contaminated food or water.

On their website, the VSP has made available to the public a bunch of helpful information covering a number of topics. It’s really something you should check out if you’re planning on taking a cruise.

VSP information topics include:

About Noroviruses on Cruise Ships – Some facts about noroviruses on cruise ships

Cruise Ship Inspection Results – Including scores, reports, and corrective actions

Healthy Cruising – How to stay healthy on your trip – Hand washing tips – prevention fact sheets

Outbreak Investigation Overview – VSP protects passenger and crew health by minimizing the risk of GI illness aboard cruise ships

Outbreak Updates – Cruise ships participating in the VSP are required to report the total number of gastrointestinal (GI) illness cases

What is infectious gastroenteritis?
Gastrointestinal illness (gastroenteritis) is the inflammation of the stomach and small and large intestines. The main symptoms include vomiting and watery diarrhea. Other symptoms include fever, abdominal cramps, nausea, and headache. Infections causing gastroenteritis can be viral, bacterial, or parasitic in origin. Norovirus is a common cause of viral gastroenteritis found on cruise ships. Types of bacterial gastroenteritis infections include Escherichia coli and salmonella.

How does infectious gastroenteritis spread?
Infections causing gastroenteritis can be spread by contaminated food or water or through an infected food handler. Individuals who are symptomatic with gastroenteritis can spread illness to others by touching handrails, elevator buttons, and shared utensils, as well as through direct intimate contact with others while they are ill.

Vessel Sanitation Program Frequently Asked Questions

Be sure to do your research before embarking on your sea adventure, coming home with a GI illness would not be fun.


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