What is it with Cruise Ships and Norovirus Outbreaks?

…it surely will make the headlines….a norovirus outbreak on a cruise ship. After all it is a very contagious and nasty virus. You can get the virus from an infected person, from contaminated food or water, or by touching contaminated surfaces.

BUT and against some public and populist news channels opinion, the virus does not originate onboard but is likely brought on board from people joining the ship or coming back from an excursion. In addition, health officials track illness on cruise ships. So outbreaks are found and reported more quickly on a cruise ship than on land.

Sure, close living quarters may increase the amount of group contact, and in theory the spread. Also, fellow travelers who are under quarantine because they fell sick, don’t comply from time to time with the quarantine and help spreading the virus.

The cruise lines know this, and stringent sanitation measures are in place. Regular inspections are also carried out by health authorities – e.g. in the US it is the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) and in Canada it is the CSIP (Cruise Ship Inspection Program). In Europe, countries like France, Germany, the Netherlands, and the UK have started developing existing programs for ship inspections and have adjusted their national legislation in order to incorporate these regulations into the International Health Regulations (IHR) 2005.

These inspections are very strict. For example, the CDC inspects a cruise ship, unannounced, twice a year if the previous inspection result was satisfactory. No stone will be unturned and the inspection ranges from food safety, to crew knowledge, to potable water, to the right location of the life hooks at the swimming pools…and the list goes on….

The maximum score of an inspection is 100. If a score of 85 or less is achieved then the ship fails the inspection and will be re-inspected.

Failures do happen and a not pass is surely not acceptable. That said, these failures are extremely rare and we are generally in better hands on a cruise ship than on land…..one thing we can do from our side to protect ourselves and others…..let’s wash hands the right way…here is a link how to wash hands just right…. https://www.cdc.gov/nceh/vsp/pub/handwashing/handwashingtips.htm

Ah yes…the gentleman in the photo inspects the temperature of a soup…can you figure out what he is doing wrong?