Friday, January 19, 2007

Noro, the Drama Queen of Viruses
With just slightly over a week to go before the World's Largest Gay Cruise casts off from Miami into the Eastern Caribbean, the Norovirus is commanding about as much media attention here in DC as the battle on Capitol Hill over the President's troop escalation desires for Iraq.

Noro struck the Freedom of the Seas back in December. Not content with making its sufferers absolutely miserable, this DNA-in-protein-coating has gone on to grab the spotlight at the Dulles Airport Hilton, stowed away aboard QE2, gone to prison in San Quentin, and according to the Contra Costa Times is rampaging across the US (probably in a pimped-out Hummer.)

The Dulles outbreak is interesting, in that approximately 100 Hilton guests were struck down, and 20 hotel staffers. The QE2, according to Cruise Critic, saw "6 percent of the ship's 1,652 passengers and 2.7 percent of its 1,002 crewmembers" afflicted." And I seem to remember that the Freedom outbreak felled a couple of hundred passengers, but only about 30 or so crew. So, how come more crew aren't affected? Maybe they're trained thoroughly in washing their hands, as well as using rubber gloves in meal preparation and stateroom maintenance...

"Norovirus outbreaks aboard cruise ships generally are less a problem caused by the ship and more a problem caused by ill passengers who don't want to miss their long-planned vacation," according to a January 6 article in the Atlanta Journal-Consitution.

Come on people, let's start buying some travel insurance! That way, if you have to cancel because you're sick before you depart on vacation, you'll get your money back!

As for the upcoming cruise, I haven't seen any special dispatches from Atlantis addressing the outbreaks. Hopefully the ship will take extra precautions. Royal Caribbean has signs all around about it, as well as hand sanitizers everywhere you go. But as I can tell you from first-hand experience, there's really no way to tell you've got that kind of bug until it's right on top of you - or cascading right out in front of you, as the case may be.

P.S. Here's a link to my post on preventing this nasty thing from climbing aboard...

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