Norovirus Spreads by Air on Cruise Ships

Researchers in Canada have concluded that norovirus can spread by air, according to a publication in the highly respected Clinical Infectious Diseases.

Eight doctors participated in a study of norovirus and determined that norovirus can be transmitted in an airborne form. They published an article titled "Detection and Quantification of Airborne Norovirus During Outbreaks in Healthcare Facilities."  

Researchers collected air samples (about 3 feet away from the sick patients) and then tested areas Norovirusfurther away, such as by the door of patient rooms and down at nursing stations.

"Airborne noroviruses were identified at six of the eight facilities included in the study. These germs were found in 54 percent of the sick patients' rooms. They were also found in 38 percent of the hallways leading to these rooms and at 50 percent of the nursing stations."

A reporter for HealthDay News / U.S. News and World Report wrote an article titled 'Cruise Ship' Norovirus Bug Can Spread by Air, Study Finds, saying that "notorious bugs that have infected scores of people and ruined countless cruise ship vacations -- can spread through the air and infect people several feet away, according to new research."

"The measures applied in hospital settings are only designed to limit direct contact with infected patients," the study's leader, Caroline Duchaine, a professor at Universite Laval's Faculty of Science and Engineering in Quebec, Canada, said in a university news release."

The medical experts concluded that rules need to be reviewed to take into account the possibility of airborne transmission of noroviruses. She suggested the use of "mobile air-filtration units" or the "wearing of respiratory protection around patients with gastroenteritis" should be considered. 

The news article said that concentrations of norovirus "ranged from 13 to 2,350 particles per cubic meter of air."  As few as  20 norovirus particles can infect someone.

The cruise industry's lobbying team at the Cruise Line International Association (CLIA) has been lecturing the public for decades that passengers not washing their hands is usually the cause of the virus' spread. I have always thought that blaming the passengers was malarkey.

Now we have reliable information that norovirus can spread in the air. It can easily be blown throughout the ship by the cruise ship's air-conditioning.  

I wonder how CLIA will spin this new clinical study?

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Comments (3) Read through and enter the discussion with the form at the end
Cruise Ship Officer - May 8, 2015 7:40 AM

The facts are that NLV can not be contracted by breathing in particles. The article cited merely says that norovirus particles can be detected in the air near patients. For you to claim that this means air-conditioning spreads norovirus is disingenuous at least and probably dishonest. Why do you think CDC willl "spin" this?

Jim Walker - May 8, 2015 9:45 AM

Dear "Cruise Ship Doctor:"

The email address you left is fake but my commputer identified your internet provider (IP) address as coming from the corporate headquarters of Princess Cruises in Valencia California.

Full of personal insults but afraid to identify yourself? A typical cruise coward, you are. Princess Cruises is the worst cruise line for always blaming the guests hygiene without a basis.

I doubt you are a doctor but if so Princess crew members compare the medical staff on your company's cruise ships to veterinarians.

Hanna jones - August 10, 2015 7:35 PM

Well, we just got back from a Star Princess cruise. I certainly do not want to cause the ship problems,, but of the six of us who went, 4 became extremely ill, that's pretyy high percentage, and add to it we guessed at least 50% of the passengers were coughing violently, and being told it was just a typical virus and not to worry about it.

The symptoms were loss of appetite, severe wheezing and coughing uncontrollably, fever, lethargy , every day for 6 days a new symptom like swollen glands, ear aches. It's been 7 for me, and I still feel more ill than any other virus over the years. They had a lot of very sick people lined up at sick bay. Everyone kept saying they could not believe how fast everyone got it,, even with required hand washing and anti bacterial lotion at every meal. No one could stop it.

So we stayed in Vancouver overnight at the end, 4 still really sick people, and hundreds sick getting off our ship, if you want to know where it started from, it had to be the ship itself, we were shocked to see it leave the bay full of new passengers within 24 hours! We watched it leave the bay , sad that they get away with their lies, charging people 400$ to boot for the nurses room visit! No thorough cleaning of the ship, under-reporting the amount of illness, and downplaying this dangerous virus to older folks and families.
If it wasn't norovirus, it sure was close! Shame on corporate cruise ships, blaming other cities! There weren't any coughs at the beginning of the trip! The ship was full of previous virus germs!

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