Avoiding norovirus is easy to do if you understand a few basic things. No one want to get sick on vacation, and following a few simple steps can help to keep you healthy. Let’s look at what norovirus is, how it spreads, and how we can all avoid it. Outbreaks occur most often between November and April.
Facts about avoiding Norovirus
According to the CDC, norovirus is highly contagious and causes nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and stomach cramps. It can be severe in the very young or the elderly. You can get norovirus from:
- Having direct contact with a sick or infected person.
- Consuming contaminated food or water.
- Touching contaminated surfaces and the putting your hands in your mouth, nose or eyes.
What else can I do to avoid Norovirus?
What can you do to stay healthy on vacation, especially if you are cruising? Well, for starters wash your hands frequently and before eating and after going to the bathroom. In addition, use the hand sanitizer and bring your own travel size to take ashore when you are in port. Take the stairs, not the elevators, and avoid touching the hand rails. Use a paper towel to open the bathroom door on your way out after washing up. Remember to keep your hands at your sides, and don’t touch your face. And remember, nothing should be “finger licking good”.
- Wash your hands before eating.
- Wash after using the bathroom.
- Wash after touching handrails, displays, elevator buttons, or any public area item.
- Wash after touching anything ashore.
- Use hand sanitizer and sanitizing wipes.
When dining in the buffet you have to speak up if you see something. The staff won’t always see what every passenger is doing. If you see someone pick something up with their hands and instead of the tongs, speak up. That may sound extreme, but you don’t know what that persons health and hygiene are like. I once saw a woman swipe her finger across a Bearnaise sauce spoon, taste it and and then put the spoon back. Were her hands clean? Who knows. I spoke up, and of course the passengers in that area of the buffet freaked out. The attendant pulled it off the line so they could get fresh batch. If something is amiss, speak up. Sticky salt and pepper shakers? Dirty coffee mug? Let them know. You can also dine at places other than the buffet which we think is a bit lower in risk.
Another thing you can do is avoid crowds. Areas that are more peaceful and less crowded may be safer. When you are in a crowd, pay attention to people coughing or sniffling. Go another route. When in port, if you purchase something or are handed something use hand sanitizer afterwards. And when you are on the ship, use your cabin restroom whenever possible.
We certainly don’t want people to think that every cruise is spent in a constant state of vigilance and decontamination, but practicing cleanliness and good hygiene on vacation is extremely important. In fact, many passengers wipe down their stateroom with Clorox wipes when they first arrive. It can’t hurt. If you do feel sick, call the ship’s doctor immediately. Whatever you do, stay in your cabin and don’t risk spreading it on the ship.