Print Posted_by Deborah Boyd on 11/01/2014 in Cruise Tips

About that Norovirus

About that Norovirus

In case you haven’t noticed, ‘tis the season’; Norovirus season that is. While you don’t have to be cruising to get it, you are most likely to hear about it when it makes the news that there are widespread ship outbreaks. It tends to spread quickly in crowded, closed places, making cruise ships ideal breeding grounds. From November through April, you are at risk and there’s nothing worse than taking that once in a lifetime vacation and being too sick to enjoy it.

What is Norovirus? As the name implies, it’s a virus that can cause infection in your stomach or intestines or both. It causes severe nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting. Yup. Norovirus is the trifecta of sickness. Symptoms usually last just two or three days – very long days if you are the one infected. While it peaks at the same time, Norovirus is NOT the flu. There is no vaccine and no treatment. Antibiotics do not work on viruses.

Norovirus is very contagious. You can get it from direct contact with someone who has it, through contaminated food or water, or by touching infected surfaces. The best way to help prevent norovirus is to practice proper hand washing and general cleanliness. Washing your hands with soap and water is best, but sanitizers are good in a bind. When you pass workers on your ship passing out the sanitizer, don’t hesitate – take it!

As someone who’s had it, Norovirus is no day at the park. My worst symptoms lasted three horrible days and somewhere in there, my husband got it. We were fortunate that it happened at the end of our cruise. We were especially cautious given my compromised immune system and we still got it.

Once you have it, the biggest problem you face is dehydration which can be prevented by drinking plenty of fluids that don’t include coffee or alcohol.

If there is good news, you build immunity to that particular strain of Norovirus for up to two years.


clean hands flickr photo by Arlington County shared under a Creative Commons (BY-SA) license

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