by Female Abroad

If you are going on a cruise or if you watch the news then you've probably come across "Norovirus" outbreaks. I've had the Norovirus (picked it up from someone when I worked in a mall food court) and it is horrible plus highly contagious.

What is Norovirus?

It is a virus that is carried in fecal matter. Meaning that you've touched, eaten, or drank something contaminated with poop and/or vomit (great thought) that is contaminated with norovirus, you've done something with someone that hasn't washed their hands properly (or have recently vomited), or you've come in contact with an infected person. Since symptoms take 1 - 2 days to start showing it is very possible that you've come in contact with someone that doesn't even know they are sick. It can even stay in your poop for up to 2 weeks after you've been cured.

Why is it horrible?

Imagine having to throw up just because you breathed while having your intestines feeling like someone is twisting them in a vice grip. Violent dry heaving into a bucket by your bed usually follows as you don't have the urge or the ability to move let alone eat / drink anything that would get close enough to your stomach to bring back up. You also get quarantined as it is highly contagious and can be passed over to people that have not had the strain you have before. Normally this whole experience lasts 3 - 7 days. Since it is so highly contagious, cruises are an easy way for it to spread as everyone is in tight quarters.

How do I know if I have it?

If you are on a cruise and you have any of the following symptoms, please head to the ship doctor right away:

  1. diarrhea
  2. throwing up
  3. nausea
  4. stomach pain
  5. fever
  6. headache
  7. body aches

I have it, now what?

Time to get as comfortable as you can and ride it out. Since it is a virus there is no medicine and no cure. All you can do is try to ward off dehydration. Drink oral rehydration fluids, sports drinks (without caffeine or alcohol), or watered down apple juice to help. I found warm liquid in tiny amounts worked for me; like tea. If the dehydration gets too bad, head to the hospital for an IV bag.

Dehydration symptoms are: decrease in urination, dry mouth and throat, feeling dizzy when standing up

How can I prevent it?

To get rid of norovirus after an outbreak a cruise ship is cleaned top to bottom with powerful cleaners and a lot of items are thrown out as they can't be disinfected. While you can't exactly be disinfected with the industrial chemicals that the cruise ships use there are some things you can do to help prevent catching it.

  1. wash your hands often and use hand sanitizer
  2. don't share utensils, food, or drinks
  3. drink your own bottle of water
  4. don't' trust the ice as ice machine rarely get cleaned and E.coli is regularly found in them
  5. skip self-serve food areas (ie buffets) if you can since people can touch / sneeze on the food or use a napkin to hold tongs, spoons, and ladles
  6. if you are eating in port, eat only food that is served hot and cooked all the way through
  7. eat fruits with removable peels / skins
  8. don't eat anything unpasteurized
  9. get enough rest so your immune system is strong
  10. use the bathroom in your stateroom
  11. wipe down things you will tough regularly in your cabin - door knobs, remote control, phone, light switches, toilet handles, etc
  12. wear clean clothes and wash them