The waters can be rough when a cruise ship faces infection prevention issues. In recent years, there have been multiple reports of viruses aboard ships which spread quickly and sicken many crew members and passengers, including a norovirus outbreak this month. Poor cleaning and disinfection practices can leave cruise ships vulnerable to these viruses, leading to poor customer satisfaction and lost revenue.
We recently hosted a cruise industry infection control event in Miami. Johann Van Haght, Diversey Care’s Director of North America Hospitality and Global Cruise, gave an introduction, followed by several presentations from experts in the cruise, disinfection, and infectious disease epidemiology industries, including myself.
My presentation focused on the impact of norovirus on the cruise ship industry. It’s important for cruise ship operators to implement an outbreak prevention program to ensure the safety of staff and guests. This program should include the following components:
- Screen staff and guests for specific signs and symptoms of infections before they board the vessel.
- Make hand hygiene products available throughout the vessel and provide education materials to staff and guests about the importance of clean hands.
- Create an environmental hygiene program that focuses on high-touch surfaces and common areas. Choose a safe and easy to use disinfectant with a short dwell time and a dry time that is longer than the dwell time.
- Train staff on how to quickly and effectively contain potentially infectious materials to prevent the spread of pathogens. Ensure they understand how to properly use disinfectants.
Mr. Donnie Brown, Director of Technical and Regulatory Affairs, Environmental and Health for the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), discussed with the audience CLIA’s program to support its members and provide guidance and timely information in preparation for infectious disease outbreaks.
Robert Belisle, Director of Strategic Alliances Development for Virox Technologies, shared the history of disinfectants and provided the audience with tools for evaluating the adequacy of commercially-available disinfection technologies.
The event concluded with a round table discussion at which the speakers addressed audience questions about newer “no-touch” disinfection technologies, training and competency of staff, and the challenge of contact time and dry time of disinfectants.
I truly enjoyed being part of this event, but most importantly, I learned that our industry should partner with the cruise ship industry to not only introduce newer disinfection technologies, but also provide training programs that will lead to a germ-free environment on cruise vessels.
For more information about infection prevention solutions from Diversey Care, visit www.diversey.com/expertise/infection-control.