Norovirus, also known as “that stomach bug that goes around every winter,” is not something you want to deal with at all, especially on vacation.
Symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, cramps and headaches are bad enough when you’re in your own bed, but can seem worse in a strange place such as a hotel or a cruise ship or a vacation rental. When you’ve spent who knows how long scrimping and saving for this time away, only to have it ruined by flu symptoms, you’re in a pretty sad state in more ways than one.
Keep in mind that norovirus spreads – fast. In January, Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas cruise ship headed home early with 475 passengers and crew ill with norovirus, a textbook case of what has been dubbed “cruise ship illness.”
In fairness, people catch norovirus anywhere spaces are confined – schools, movie theaters, hospitals, etc. – and your chance of contracting norovirus on a cruise is said to be a mere “one in 5,500” compared with “one in 15” on land. But because it’s such a gigantic and dramatic occurrence when played out against the splashy, sexy backdrop of a cruise ship, cases of norovirus on cruises get a lot of attention. Still, why take chances whether you’re on a cruise, flying, or on a land-based vacation?
How to protect yourself and prevent the spread of norovirus
- Don’t shake hands – even with the captain of a cruise ship.
- Put a napkin between you and the handles and utensils at self-serves and buffets.
- Flush using toilet tissue as a barrier between you and flush handles.
- Exit public bathrooms using a paper towel, or worst case, your sleeve, to grip the door handle.
- Turn faucets in public bathrooms on and off with your elbow.
- Push elevator buttons with your knuckle.
- Avoid banisters, and keep a tissue handy to protect you should you need to use a railing.
- Wash your hands frequently using lots of soap and warm water, especially when returning to your cabin or hotel room.
- Don’t rely on hand sanitizers to protect you from norovirus, because experts say they won’t.
If you do get sick:
- Don’t be a “trouper” and try to get out and about; doing that is unfair to others and in the case of elderly people, very young children and anyone with compromised immune systems, it could be deadly.
- Arrange for meals to be brought to your room – or cabin if you’re on a cruise.
- Avoid dehydration by drinking as much water as possible.
Unfortunately, no amount of caution can guarantee you won’t get sick, but the silver lining in this dark and nauseating cloud is that most people recover within three days.
There are always risks with traveling. Set your mind at ease with an Emergency Medical Plan. In case of illness or injury, we bring you home. For less than the cost of one plane ticket, you and your family can be covered for a year. Corporate plans are also available.
Don’t have a plan?