CruisiNews With Eva
by Eva Desjeunes, Maverick Travel Guru
Nothing can ruin a vacation like a bout of vomiting, diarrhea, and stomach cramps. The norovirus has become notorious for sending hundreds of cruise ship passengers at a time running for their bathrooms and for steering entire cruise ships back to port early.
Back on dry land, noroviruses also have a big impact on people’s health. The CDC estimates that noroviruses are responsible for more than half of all food-borne disease outbreaks each year, and noroviruses are the most common cause of diarrhea in adults and the second most common cause in children.
So, what exactly is the norovirus? Noroviruses are a group of viruses that cause inflammation of the stomach and intestinal lining, they are the leading cause of gastroenteritis in the U.S. The norovirus was originally called the Norwalk virus after the town of Norwalk, Ohio, the location of the first confirmed outbreak in 1972.
People become infected with the virus when they eat food or drink liquids that have been contaminated. Raw or undercooked oysters and raw fruits and vegetables have been implicated in some outbreaks. You can also get infected if you touch an object or surface that has been infected with the virus and then touch your nose, mouth or eyes.
Noroviruses thrive on cruise ships, as well as day care centers, restaurants, nursing homes and other close quarters, because they are very hardy and highly contagious. They can survive temperature extremes in water and on surfaces. Once someone is infected from contaminated food, the virus can quickly pass from person to person through shared food or utensils, by shaking hands or through close contact. People who have a weakened immune system are particularly susceptible to catching the virus.
The symptoms of norovirus are low-grade fever, chills, headache, muscle aches, fatigue, vomiting, and diarrhea. Most of these symptoms are not serious, but diarrhea and vomiting can deplete your body of the fluid it needs and you can become dehydrated. Most people do not have any long term problems from the virus.
How do you prevent getting this nasty little virus you ask? Well, good hygiene is the key to preventing an infection with norovirus, especially when you are in close surroundings with a lot of other people. So…
Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 15 seconds, or use an alcohol based hand sanitizer, especially after going to the bathroom or changing a baby’s diaper, and before you eat food. All cruise lines offer hand sanitizer throughout the ship and are found in all the entrances to dining facilities, crews are constantly cleaning these areas as well. I have been on more than 30 cruises and have never been ill. If I see someone in the bathroom who thinks their hands don’t need washing, I don’t hesitate to let them know otherwise.
So enjoy your cruise.
As always, cruise and travel with Cruisitude.
Eva Desjeunes-Sunder, MCC, appears courtesy of Cruiseplanners and can be reached at (928) 532-7740 or (888) 201-6626. You can also explore her website at www.planetcruising.com for more travel adventures.