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The Odds of Food Poisoning on board a Cruise Ship

By Principal Lawyer, Personal Injury - Travel Litigation

As Personal Injury Lawyers, you can expect the occasional word of caution or a news update concerning cases of food poisoning on cruise lines, but what are your chances of getting food poisoning on board a cruise?

The latest reports have seen 106 passengers suffer food poisoning-related illnesses on Celebrity Cruises’ Infinity line last month, and 114 cruise passengers affected by an outbreak in March on Royal Caribbean’s Legend of the Seas line.

Cruise lines are required to report food poisoning outbreaks that affect more than 3% of on board passengers to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Of the 20 million people to travel on one of Cruise Line International Association’s cruise ships in 2013, 1,409 passengers were affected by food poisoning; meaning 0.007% of all cruisers or one in 14,000.

The highest reported cases of food poisoning on cruise lines are outbreaks of Norovirus, a highly-contagious virus transmitted through the fecal-oral route, caught by eating infected food and touching infected surfaces. Norovirus causes over 19 million deaths across the world every year. Given the highly contagious nature of Norovirus, it is clear to see how easily it could spread on board a cruise ship. The increase in cases of Norovirus on cruises from 2006 are attributed to the rising popularity of cruise holidays and the contact between people and living quarters being so close, with the proximity allowing the illness to spread.

Strict health and safety standards, regulated by the CDC, ensure cruise lines do as much as possible to protect passengers from outbreaks of food poisoning and Norovirus. It is the cruise line’s responsibility to see that the illness does not spread. In the event of a Norovirus outbreak, general procedures are to thoroughly disinfect frequently touched surfaces like railings and door handles, hand sanitizing gels are placed throughout the ship, ill passengers are isolated in their cabins, passengers are encouraged to use their own cabin toilet facilities, and cruise line staff conduct regular health and safety announcements to outline precautions.

Such warnings about cruise ship food poisoning victims are certainly not meant to advise against taking a cruise for your holiday. In fact, for all the previous daunting facts and figures, outbreaks on board cruise ships only accounts for roughly 1% of all reported cases of Norovirus.

So, to give you a straight answer… set sail and enjoy the sun, sea and travel of your cruise ship holiday. The probability of a food poisoning outbreak on your cruise is lower than the headlines suggest.

Read our previous blog on how Slater and Gordon Personal Injury Lawyers can help in liability disputes if you suffer food poisoning or a personal injury on board a cruise ship.

If you or your holiday party have suffered food poisoning on board a cruise ship, either if you were working on board ship or on holiday, our No Win, No Fee Solicitors can help you with your claim for compensation. Call us on freephone 0800 916 9046 or contact us online.

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