Monday, February 6, 2012
MORE NOROVIRUS ILLNESSES ON CRUISE SHIPS
Well, we are off to a good start for cases of diarrhea, vomiting and stomach cramps on board cruise ships this year - and, it's only the beginning of February. In fact, there is a very good chance that we will easily pass the 2011 total number of illnesses (1971 reported cases).
By the last count I could find, we now have four cruise ships docking in the U.S. during the last few days with outbreaks of Norovirus on board: the two Princess Cruise Ships (Crown Princess and Ruby Princess) with a combined total of some 500 illnesses reported, a Carnival Corp. ship with about 100 reported so far, and an outbreak on Royal Caribbean Cruises “Voyager of the Seas” with maybe 200 illnesses on board (the numbers in this last case are still vague).
But let me tell you something else: the actual numbers are bound to be much larger. How much, I don't know. I would guess at least double or triple. Maybe even 10 times the above. After all, studies done on Norovirus have found that only about 10% of people affected by this virus seek medical care. And if they just decide to tough it out, and not see a doctor, they don't get counted.
Some passengers on a cruise ship don't go to see the medical staff because they discover that they have to pay extra for the consultation, or have to wait for a long time, when they are feeling awful and would rather be flat in bed (and, close to a bathroom). Others only become ill when they leave the ship (the incubation period for onset of symptoms can be as long as 72 hours), so they are unlikely to be included in the numbers reported to the CDC.
Of course, now with cruise travel reservations down, and less crowding on board, maybe even safer food, the incidence of Norovirus may start to decrease.....
To your good health,