In a follow-up on the outbreak onboard the Silversea Cruises ship, Silver Spirit, last month, health officials reported yesterday that the cause of the outbreak that sickened 37 was Enterotoxigenic E. coli (ETEC).

E. coli/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID)
E. coli/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID)

The outbreak on the Silver Spirit voyage from March 3 – 21 resulted in the sickening of 24 of 388 passengers and 13 of 366 crew members.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), ETEC is a major bacterial cause of diarrhea among travelers and children in the developing world. ETEC is increasingly recognized as an important cause of foodborne illness in developed nations, such as the United States.

Infection occurs when a person eats food, or drinks water or ice contaminated with ETEC bacteria. Human or animal wastes (e.g., feces) are the ultimate source of ETEC contamination.

The CDC Vessel Sanitation Program (VSP) has investigated 10 cruise ship outbreaks year-to-date.

Silversea Cruises is a luxury cruise line with its headquarters in Monaco.