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CDC and Cruise Ship Sanitation: Protecting the Public’s Health
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Vessel Sanitation Program (VSP) collaborates with the cruise ship industry to proactively protect the health of travelers and prevent illness transmission to U.S. ports. The program helps the industry implement comprehensive sanitation programs to minimize risks for gastrointestinal illness. VSP
• Inspects cruise ships (unannounced sanitation inspections and scheduled construction inspections);
• Monitors gastrointestinal illnesses on cruise ships and investigates or responds to outbreaks;
• Trains cruise ship employees on public health practices; and
• Provides health education and reliable and current public health
information to the cruise ship industry, the traveling public, and others.
Cruise ships under VSP’s jurisdiction
• Carry 13 or more passengers and
• Have a foreign itinerary with U.S. ports.
VSP is funded entirely by user service fees. Each vessel owner pays a fee, based on tonnage, for sanitation inspections conducted by Environmental Health Officers of the U.S. Public Health Service.
VSP inspectors conduct unannounced sanitation inspections to see how well ships are operating and maintaining sanitation standards in accordance with the VSP 2011 Operations Manual. Inspectors provide public health guidance to cruise ship staff when standards are out of compliance. At the end of inspections, inspectors write a report describing inspection findings and recommendations.
Sanitation inspections are conducted while a ship is in a U.S. port.
National Center for Environmental Health
Division of Emergency and Environmental Health Services
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