Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Cruising on the USS Norovirus

As an experienced cruiser (well, sort of), I found this article very interesting, particuarly since we're in the middle of scheduling a cruise for this summer and are leaning towards Royal Caribbean!
Once an infected person gets onboard a ship, the virus can be spread quickly, mainly through hand contact with ship railings, bathroom doors, and especially buffet food, said Zimring. (Read blog post: "An Infinity of Viruses.")
The industrial-size servings of food on a cruise ship with hundreds of passengers can be particularly worrisome, since once the virus enters the food it can spread rapidly. Food can also get more easily contaminated with the virus if it sits out for several hours, as is often the case with buffet-style meals.
And so many people being in one place eases the virus's spread. "In close quarters it doesn't get away, everything's concentrated," Zimring says.
The article does point out, thankfully, that it's not actually the case that cruise ships are suffering some sort of novovirus epidemic over the last few years:
Though the number of news reports on cruise ship illnesses could make it seem like such outbreaks are on the rise, they're not any more prevalent than in the 1990s and 2000s.  Instead, "People are more aware of it because of the media and better diagnostic techniques," says Michael Zimring, director of the Center for Wilderness and Travel Medicine at Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore, Maryland. [ht: realclearscience.com]