Swine Flu on a Cruise
Swine flu has been a problem in the past for cruisers and cruise ships, and even though the panic is over, it's good to be informed.
Tips and Advice About the Swine Flu that WAS on Cruise Ships
Swine flu is aptly called by that name because it is a strain of the influenza virus usually found in pigs. These days, however, it seems to be a unique combination of different strains of the influenza virus that are usually found separately in pigs, birds and humans.
Symptoms of swine flu, not unlike those of the common flu we all face in the winter months, can include headaches, fever, coughing, chills, nausea, diarrhoea and muscle aches.
Anti-viral drugs, if begun as soon as possible after symptoms appear, can ease the severity of the disease once contracted. However, most cases of the swine flu in the USA, Canada, and Europe in 2009 needed nothing more than home care and a little sympathy from loved ones.
On a cruise, the responsibility for taking care that the swine flu does not reach pandemic proportions is, as for the norovirus, largely up to the passengers and crew.
The same common sense rules apply.
Avoid hand contact with surfaces that are commonly touched by many other hands, like stair and corridor rails, buffet utensils, elevator buttons. Don’t touch anything unless you absolutely have to – and then try to use another part of the body.
It’s not uncommon these days to see folk pressing elevator buttons with their elbows.
Make sure that you keep your hands away from your face. The eyes, nose and mouth show “welcome” signs to viruses and bacteria. In fact, any moist opening into the body is a welcome entry.
Wash your hands as often as possible, making sure to use plenty of soap and warm water and to wash thoroughly for at least 20 seconds. Some even suggest that two washings, one after the other is ideal.
If you are not able to get to a bathroom to wash your hands, even when hands ae not visibly dirty, use a waterless alcohol-based hand gel with at least 60% alcohol. Many cruise ships offer this at all points of entry to public rooms.
Most cruise ships are flooding their guests with educational videos for crew and passengers alike about infectious illnesses like swine flu and the norovirus and how to avoid contracting them. They are also providing guests with Swine Flu information from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
If you are on a cruise and are unfortunate enough to contract the swine flu or any other influenza type disease, you MUST inform the ships doctor at once, and take your part in making sure the virus does not spread. This usually involves staying in your cruise stateroom, and when you have to go out, making sure that you cover up your sneezes and your coughs. If there’s no time to fumble for your handkerchief or tissues, use your elbow!
Be aware also that on many cruise ships, any passengers embarking and showing signs of a respiratory illness will NOT be allowed to board the ship.