With the norovirus outbreaks escalating in the first quarter of this year, any holiday traveller will most likely feel apprehensive about getting on board a cruise ship that has fallen prey to the infection. But, if you have been looking forward to this holiday cruise, it would be a pity not to give in to your dream. You have your ticket and all your bags are packed; so what else must you do to quell your trepidation?
Learn how to avoid the infection. Why don’t you check out Dr Richard Dawood’s guide? He is a specialist in Travel Medicine and he wrote Norovirus: A Guide to How to Avoid It published in Telegraph Travel –Cruise Section.
“Norovirus can be a risk for cruise passengers. In late 2012, P & O confirmed that passengers had suffered from the virus on its Oriana cruise ship. And now hundreds of passengers on the Royal Caribbean’s Explorer of the Seas ship have fallen ill due to a suspected norovirus outbreak.
Here, the travel health specialist Dr Dawood offers his guide to the norovirus, including what to look out for – and how to avoid it.”
The article focused on some basics about noroviruses, such as:
- Symptoms of noroviruses: Noroviruses are the notorious causal agents of gastroenteritis. Like any typical gastroenteritis, signs and symptoms include diarrhea, stomach cramps and spasm, as well as vomiting. You may also run a temperature or mild fever. These are usually exhibited within 24-48 hours after exposure and may persist for one to four days depending on the severity of infection and your resistance.
- Dangers to watch out for on cruise ships: Cruise ships are akin to a closed community that makes rapid transmission of pathogens highly possible. The nonstop arrival of new passengers or their coming back and forth from shore trips makes eradication of the virus extremely difficult. This can lead to massive outbreaks. Often it takes dramatic measures to put an end to an outbreak such as cutting the cruise short for the entire ship to be sanitized.
- Preventing norovirus infections: The infection can’t be prevented by taking a specific medicine. The best prevention strategy includes strict regard for food hygiene. Cruise lines would rather take this option because taking a cruise ship out of service for it to be disinfected is extremely costly. Unfortunately, constant influx of passengers from various ports of call and the voyagers’ shore excursions are exposing them to more uncontrolled environments and other sources of possible infections.
- Every passenger is susceptible: Unfortunately, an incidence does not result in permanent immunity. This means that anyone can become infected again and again. People who love being adventurous during shore excursions and those who have weaker or compromised immune systems are more vulnerable.
- Treatment for gastroenteritis: The biggest danger associated with gastroenteritis is dehydration and loss of electrolytes. Oral rehydration salts (ORS) would make the best treatment to prevent those complications. All cruise ships with a decent infirmary or clinic are supposed to have this basic treatment for diarrhea. Make sure not to embark on a cruise without a travel insurance; treatment onboard, even for minor ailments, can be so expensive.
A norovirus infection is not really considered medically serious, except for those who are medically compromised, infants and the elderly. It is, however considered to be highly contagious. In a confined area like cabins and other closed spaces, transmission of the virus can be faster. It is best that patients are isolated from the other healthy ones, once the signs and symptoms are manifested.
With the season peaking in a few days or weeks, the cruise industry is prepping hard to keep their passengers safe while on bard. Most are doing disinfection to make sure that their cruises will not be marred by any further norovirus outbreaks. On your own end, try to do your best to be extra careful when it comes to personal hygiene and eating preferences.