Tribune Print Share Text

Going on a cruise?

Protect yourself from getting sick

Created date

May 22nd, 2012

More and more you hear about outbreaks of illness on cruise ships, particularly stomach problems. Most of these are caused by the norovirus, a highly contagious virus that causes acute gastroenteritis inflammation of the stomach and intestines. This results in diarrhea, vomiting, and stomach pain. Norovirus is the most common cause of gastroenteritis in the U.S. You can t become immune to it, so you may get infected several times throughout your life. Outbreaks tend to occur and spread in crowded and close places such as schools or on cruise ships.

Difficult to control

It s difficult to control because it is so easy to transmit, whether you have close contact with an infected person, eat foods or drink liquids contaminated with norovirus, or touch a contaminated surface and then put your hand near your mouth. Even though most people recover within a few days, they may be contagious for a long time from when they first start feeling sick to up to two weeks after they ve recovered. Unfortunately, on a cruise you have limited ways of protecting yourself. You can wash your hands often and carefully and also use alcohol-based hand sanitizers. Unfortunately, you don t have control of preparing the food or of the laundry facilities. If these areas are not properly cleaned, you could end up infected. There are no specific treatments for norovirus your main goal if you get sick is to prevent dehydration. Drink lots of fluids; if this is not possible because of vomiting, take small sips frequently or eat ice chips. If you don t get better or have chronic health conditions, seek the advice of the on-board medical staff.

Comments