January 26, 2005


You will have seen in the reports of teh "Aurora" world cruise cancellation, it also talks about a problem the ship had last summer when a lot of the passengers came down with the "norovirus" bug (which is a stomach upset that seems to spread easily when people are confinde and interacting on places liek crusie ships). When we were on the Aurora in the buffet areas for example, we had to wash our hands with that anti-bacterial gel and then were handed a tray etc.

If you look ona site that list mishaps at sea, this seems to be the most common reported issue. Spookily it appear this morning after I ahd been thinking about the virus and how it would be awful if it spread on one of the cruises we have booked...

This press release form today sums it all up well:

"Increased Reports of Norovirus, Known as the 'Stomach Flu,' Are SeenWorldwide

Source: International Council of Cruise Lines
Tuesday January 25, 2:04 pm ETInternational

Council of Cruise Lines' Members Prepared for IncreasedIncidents of Norovirus and Encourage Everyone to Exercise FrequentHand Washing to Stay Healthy

Press ReleaseARLINGTON, Va., Jan. 25 /PRNewswire/ -- There is an increase innorovirus incidents across the country in hospitals, day care centers,nursing homes and schools, according to Dave Forney, chief of theVessel Sanitation Program of the Centers for Disease Control andPrevention (CDC). With the reported increased number of noroviruscases on land, reported from Virginia to Colorado, Canada and Japan,the International Council of Cruise Lines (ICCL) has observed acorresponding increase in norovirus incidents on board cruise ships.

The CDC estimates that 23 million people in the United States everyyear contract norovirus, or 8 percent of the U.S. population.Annually, less than 1 percent of all cruise ship passengers have beenaffected by norovirus, however, the cruise lines encourage allpeople -- cruise passengers or not -- to practice good hygiene bywashing one's hands frequently and thoroughly with soap and warmwater.

According to Forney, cruise lines have taken a leadership role in addressing norovirus, the second most prevalent illness in the UnitedStates behind the common cold. "Cruise ships have rigorous protocolsand procedures in place to manage and eradicate transmission ofnorovirus," Forney said. "In addition to being held to the highest sanitation standards in the world, cruise lines have worked meticulously and effectively to actually break the cycle oftransmission during most cruises, which requires a lot of effort andexpertise."Rigorous procedures are in place to disinfect and sanitize publicareas including door handles, railings and elevator buttons. Passengers are encouraged to wash their hands frequently andhand-sanitizers are offered on some ships. Passengers are encouragedto minimize their contact with others during the period when theillness is likely to be passed on.

"We want to educate passengers as to measures they can take toeffectively prevent this temporary but uncomfortable condition," saidMichael Crye, president of the ICCL. "The most preventative measurepeople can take is washing their hands frequently. If they areexperiencing symptoms, they should follow the medical staff'srecommendations to prevent the spread of illness."S ymptoms of the illness include diarrhea, vomiting and stomach crampsand may last from one to two days. The most common way of transmissionis through person-to-person contact."

ICCL member cruise lines identify the safety and well-being of theirpassengers and crew as their highest priority," said Crye. All ICCLmember lines are part of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control andPrevention's (CDC) Vessel Sanitation Program (VSP) and are required toreport each incidence of gastrointestinal illness."The reason you hear about norovirus on cruise ships is because theyare required to report every incidence of gastrointestinal illness,"Forney said. "Nowhere else in the public health system of the UnitedStates is norovirus a reportable illness.""Norovirus is not a cruise-ship illness, but an illness commonly seenin many settings throughout the United States," Forney noted.For tips on how to stay healthy on your cruise vacation, moreinformation on norovirus and proper hand washing techniques, pleasevisit the CDC Web site at http://www.cdc.gov or the Vessel SanitationProgram's Web site at http://www.cdc.gov/nceh/vsp. ."


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