New CDC Guidelines

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is considering more stringent guidelines for the maintenance of cruise ship hot tubs and whirlpool baths following the outbreak of Legionnaires' Disease aboard Celebrity Cruises' Horizon this summer.

If adopted, the recommendations would call for improved spa maintenance, including: frequently changing the filters; using the proper chemicals for cleaner water, and providing the maintenance crew with easier access to the facilities, said a CDC spokesperson.

The CDC may also improve its record-keeping of the Vessel Sanitation Program (VSP), the results of which are published in the Green Sheet.

"It doesn't appear as if the outbreak is of major concern now aboard cruise vessels calling at U.S. ports," said the spokesperson. "However, we believe there are easy measures to further reduce the risks of future outbreaks of these diseases."

However, the CDC does not expect to issue these new voluntary guidelines until later this year, be added.

The proposed guidelines follow a CDC public hearing on Oct. 17 which gathered more than 80 representatives from the cruise and spa industries, according to Tom O'Toole, Deputy Director of Special Programs.

In related news, the CDC is revising its VSP operations manual for the ftrst quarter of 1995, incorporating new Food and Drug Administration (FDA) food codes.

"These (new codes) will address the process of food safety with an emphasis on preventing problems (in the food area) rather than reacting to them," O'Toole said. Such factors as refrigeration will most likely be changed.

More than 600 people suffered from an outbreak of Shigellosis, an intestinal disease which is spread by other infected persons, aboard Royal Caribbean Cruise Line's Viking Serenade on Aug. 29.

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