Stomach flu, traveler’s diarrhea, winter vomiting bug. Norovirus goes by many names, but travelers across the globe know the dangers of the infection.
The extremely contagious stomach virus is transmitted from person to person via direct contact. This can happen justy by shaking hands with someone who’s sick, eating contaminated foods, and touching infected surfaces.
The virus spreads most often when a lot of people share close quarters.
Cruise ships are the most notable location for spreading norovirus. People are always touching the railings and putting their hands on the backs of chairs while they walk to their table in the ships dining rooms. But it’s not just cruise ships that pose a risk. Even places like sporting events and concerts can create an opportunity to spread the virus.
Unless you’re planning to avoid all busy locations in the future, some steps are needed to avoid the bug.
Like other dangerous bacteria, warm water and soap is a perfect combination to get rid of norovirus. It’s key to wash your hands in hot water and scrub for about 20 seconds in case you came into contact with the virus. Washing your hands kills almost all the germs that cause the norovirus.
Researchers from Arizona State University believe this is actually because the virus largely spreads via contact between the hand and mouth. If all the germs are washed off your hands, you’re less likely to become sick even if exposed to it.
As far as we know cruise ships don’t emphasis hand washing enough to their patrons. While there are signs aboard that encourage employees to wash hands before returning to work, warnings for passengers are hard to find.
Some prominent hints for the passengers could improve the norovirus problem. Researchers believe that if cruise ships posted these signs in prominent locations, cases of norovirus will decrease significantly. Travelers already hate getting sick while on vacation. While the signs should stress the importance of washing hands, they may get more attentions by telling the stakes of the virus. By washing their hands, travelers can make sure their trip is more meaningful and enjoyable.
While washing your hands is an easy solution, there are other methods to steer clear of norovirus:
- Stay hydrated and drink plenty of liquids.
- Drink even more water when drinking alcohol. Excessive alcohol can quickly dehydrate you, making water a priority.
- Make sure your food is cooked in a clean and healthy environment. This also means that the food should be washed thoroughly before it’s cooked and served.
- If you think you have norovirus or traveler’s diarrhea, seek medical attention immediately.
Norovirus can be prevented, and all it takes is a few extra minutes before you eat each meal. So, don’t skip one of the most important things you can do and jeopardize your health; wash your hands.
Written for Passport Health by Sabrina Cortes. Sabrina is a freelance writer with a Bachelor’s Degree from Georgian Court University. She currently lives in the Smokey Mountains of western North Carolina.