Each year there are 21 million cases of the norovirus infection that are found across the nation. Many of these cases are similar and have to do with the contained living quarters that the hosts (people) are staying in. Some of the more common contained living quarters that the norovirus can be found are in prisons, dorms, and cruise ships.
Prisons are something that you really don’t experience and hopefully you (the reader) have avoided them. Dorms are also something that probably pertained to you when you were younger and you may not be exposed to them today (unless you are a creepy old guy gawking at the young girls…shame shame). Cruises on the other hand are something that a person can enjoy at any age for the most part. There are inexpensive and expensive cruises and many other options (such as number of days out to sea).
The concept of “cruising” was established in 1900 with the “Prinzessin Victoria Luise” and has since taken many steps to improving the ships themselves, safety, and the fun factor. But what about getting sea sick, doesn’t that kind of take the fun out of the whole cruise experience?
The Norovirus is a very serious issue and has the potential of infecting multiple people very rapidly. The Norovirus was originally called “Norwalk agent” after an outbreak occurred among children at Bronson Elementary School in the late 1960’s. When cruise ships started to get infected with this illness, it was referred to as “Norovirus”.
Recently, there were hundreds of passengers sick on a Crown Princess Cruise ship. The Norovirus traveled the waters from January 28th to February 4th and left 226 passengers and 63 crew members very ill. Even without a host (you again), the Norovirus can live on hard surfaces for 12 hours, contaminated fabrics (bed sheets for example) for 12 days, and could survive for a few months or even years in contaminated still water.
There isn’t much you can do to stop the virus once you have caught it, but if you wash your hands with soap and water and stay hydrated, the effects may not be as brutal. As if vomiting and diarrhea weren’t bad enough, the Norovirus can still survive in you even 2 days after your symptoms have improved. To give you a better idea of this infection; it only takes 10 to 100 viral particles for you to catch it. This is scary considering that it takes 10,000 viral particles to catch the flu (which I’m sure many of us have had more than a few times).
In situations such as the Crown Princess Cruise ship, the UFE (Urine Feces Everywhere) team are happy that there are measures being taken to properly sanitize a cruise ship. The “Vessel Sanitation Program” provides methods for the CDC to inspect and monitor cruise ship health issues. If the ship reaches 2% passenger contamination, then the CDC will open an investigation file. If it reaches 3%, they begin the “Outbreak Protection Protocol” which includes cleaning all areas of the ship and not allowing passengers to touch certain shared surfaces. If the situation gets worse (such as Crown Princess’s 7%), then the CDC can counsel the cruise line to put the ship through an “enhanced cleansing protocol” which is a detailed written process created by the cruise line and approved by the CDC.
If you think that this can never happen to you, think again and be prepared and watch what you touch (banisters, elevator buttons, and shared restaurant utensils). Some symptoms include vomiting or watery diarrhea, or both (gross). Out of the recorded cases, one-third to one-half of infected people developed fevers. Abdominal cramping and stomach pains, along with feeling lethargic are also common symptoms. We at UFE hope that if you do voyage out to sea, that you try to keep yourself in a good clean hygienic frame of mind and that the other people on the ship don’t crap all over your trip.