Health response to cruise ship gastro

Director of Public Health Dr Mark Veitch today said Tasmanian health authorities had worked cooperatively with a cruise ship that arrived in Hobart with a number of cases of gastro on board.

Dr Veitch said the illness among cruise ship passengers posed no public health risk to Tasmanians.

Dr Veitch said the cruise ship had notified authorities before it docked in Hobart that it had been experiencing more cases of gastro cases than expected.

The cruise ship was using established medical and infection control protocols to manage ill passengers and limit the spread of infection.

“It is not uncommon for ships that carry large numbers of passengers and crew – in this case more than 5000 – to experience a level of illness very similar to that of the normal population," Dr Veitch said.

“Outbreaks of highly infectious conditions such as gastro and respiratory illness can also occur in cruise ships, where a population the size of a medium-sized town mixes closely together.

“The ship informed us that a small number of passengers who were likely to require transfer to hospital for medical conditions not necessarily linked to gastroenteritis.

“Again, it is common for cruise ships to request additional medical assistance for more seriously ill passengers.”

Dr Veitch said a total of five passengers received treatment at the Royal Hobart Hospital.