Guidance for cruise ships on the management of varicella (chickenpox)
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Guidance for cruise ships on the management of varicella (chickenpox)


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      In most years, varicella, commonly known as chickenpox, is the most common vaccine-preventable disease reported by cruise ships to the CDC Division of Global Migration and Quarantine (DGMQ). It is a frequent cause of outbreaks onboard cruise ships. Varicella is highly communicable, and secondary attack rates can be as high as 90%. Complications occur more frequently in persons older than 15 years, and as crew members and most cruise ship passengers are adults, outbreaks have the potential to involve serious illness. Travelers at highest risk for severe disease are immunocompromised persons or pregnant women without a history of varicella disease or vaccination. A substantial proportion of crew members are from tropical countries, where infection generally occurs at a later age than in temperate climates.3 Because of this differing epidemiology of varicella disease and lower rates of immunization, crew members are more likely to be susceptible to varicella than the general adult population in the United States. This document provides guidance to cruise ships for the reporting, investigation, management, and control of varicella-related illness and deaths in passengers and crew members of cruise ships traveling on international voyages destined for U.S. ports.

      Page last updated: August 1, 2013 [as of 2013 Nov. 18].


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