If you have seen any “cruise news” in the media lately, you have no doubt seen the horror stories on Norovirus. Several cruise lines have had to cut their cruises short due to this unpleasant virus (Royal Caribbean, Norwegian, and Princess Cruise to name a few). Norovirus is NOT something that you can get vaccinated against and it can SERIOUSLY affect your vacation at sea.
Here’s some information that you should know when it comes to Norovirus:
What is Norovirus?
According to the Center for Disease Control: “Norovirus is a very contagious virus. You can get norovirus from an infected person, contaminated food or water, or by touching contaminated surfaces. The virus causes your stomach or intestines or both to get inflamed (acute gastroenteritis). This leads you to have stomach pain, nausea, and diarrhea and to throw up.”
Norovirus is not prejudiced against anyone–meaning that anyone can get it. You can continue to get norovirus over and over again. It mostly affects young children and older adults the worst.
The Spread of Norovirus
Because Norovirus is highly contagious and spread by touching, when there’s one case of it in an enclosed area–such as a cruise ship, the infection runs rampant amongst people. People who catch the virus are the most contagious when they first get the virus and during the first 3 days after they recover from the illness.
On a cruise ship that’s crowded with a lot of passengers its easy to see how this virus can spread from person to person. Touching surfaces that have been touched by people with the virus, eating food or drinking drinks that have been contaminated, and having contact with anyone who has the virus could easily spread Norovirus throughout a cruise ship.
Though Norovirus can be life threatening to some people, the virus can be treated. Because the nature of the infection is viral, you cannot take antibiotics to clear it up unfortunately. Medical experts suggest plenty of fluids to stay hydrated in order to prevent dehydration from vomiting and diarrhea. At this time, there is no Norovirus vaccine.
Imagine being on a cruise ship and contracting a viral infection like Norovirus and being confined to your cabin for days. It doesn’t sound fun does it? Below, read how you can prevent Norovirus.
Here are some things that you can do while you are on your next cruise vacation to protect and prevent yourself from contracting Norovirus:
- Wash your hands. Make sure that you thoroughly wash your hands any time that you touch any foreign object especially after changing diapers, using the toilet, and anytime that you are eating, preparing, or will touch any kind of food. Keeping a good hand sanitizer with you on your cruise can also help you when you aren’t immediately around a faucet with soap and water.
- Don’t touch many public areas if you can help it. This includes railings, banisters, tables, chairs, etc. On a cruise ship, it’s almost impossible not to touch anything; so if you MUST, be sure to wash your hands or use sanitizer immediately afterward. Some people will bring their own travel sanitizer in order to wipe down surfaces that could be contaminated which is not a bad idea at all.
- Try to avoid the ships public bathrooms. Public bathrooms are littered with germs, especially on a cruise ship. Use the restroom in your own cabin to avoid the spread of germs from one person to the next.
What if I get Norovirus while on a cruise ship?
If you took all of the steps that you took to protect yourself and you find that you have contracted Norovirus while on a cruise ship, there are a few things that you can do in order to make sure that you are as comfortable as possible and get the best care available to you at the time.
- Bring the allotted amount of fluids on board the ship in order to prepare for if you will need the additional fluids. Bottled water can cost a ton of money on a cruise ship, and you may not want to drink the tap water when you are sick in bed. Most cruise lines will allow you to bring a certain amount of fluids with you in your carry on luggage, so take advantage of this to be prepared.
- Visit the on board doctor for further instructions on what to do. When you do this prepare to be quarantined in order to prevent other guests from getting the virus as well.
- Make sure that you call your cruise travel insurance agent. Many cruise travel insurance companies will cover you for a certain amount of medical insurance in the case that you get sick. They will help you to find medical assistance and assist you with your claims right over the phone. Though Norovirus runs its course in a few days, being able to be reimbursed for expenses that you incurred getting well on or off the ship is a relief, especially with plans that can start off as low as $18 per person and cover you for up to $10,000 in medical insurance.
- Keep sanitizing. Norovirus usually runs its course in around 3 days but you can be contagious for up to 2 weeks after getting over it, so keep washing your hands and sanitizing surfaces that could be contaminated to avoid spreading the virus or catching it again.