Afraid of your cruise vacation ruined by a nasty bout of diarrhea and vomiting?
There may be hope for you.
WebMD and a few other medical journals report that there have been promising results from the tests of an experimental vaccine designed to prevent infection and symptoms associated with norovirus.
WebMD explains that researchers sprayed the experimental vaccine in the noses of 47 volunteers. They also sprayed a "placebo vaccine in the noses of 43 other volunteers." The study participants all swallowed a large dose of the norovirus (yuck).
About two-thirds of those who got the placebo vaccine developed gastrointestinal symptoms such as diarrhea and vomiting. However, only a third of the participants who received the real vaccine developed symptoms.
The researcher behind the experiment, Dr. Robert Atmar, a professor of medicine and molecular virology at the Baylor College of Medicine, said that the results are very promising, but it will be a few more years of research before the vaccine can be offered to the public.
Although commonly referred to as the "cruise ship virus," the virus also affects nursing homes, hospitals and restaurants. Over the years, the cruise industry’s trade organization, Cruise Lines International Association ("CLIA"), has tried to disassociate itself from this nasty virus. It often writes to newspapers complaining when norovirus is described in such nautical terms.
When nororvirus breaks out on a cruise ship, you will usually hear the cruise lines and pro-cruise line publications stating that the cruise ship has been subjected to "enhanced cleaning,’ whatever that means. Cruise Critic ran an article earlier this year with a title "Norovirus is NOT a ‘Cruise Ship’ Virus." The article showed a couple of photographs of crewmembers spraying down tables, chairs and even the roulette wheel. Many topical solutions sprayed like this are not effective in killing the virus. If a towel is contaminated, the wiping down of everything in sight spreads the virus everywhere.
You will never hear the cruise lines or industry publications mention that the norovirus may not be spread from person-to-person, but have been transmitted by contaminated food or water.
According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), whereas "person to person" transmission of norovirus has been documented, "norwalk gastroenteritis is transmitted by the fecal-oral route via contaminated water and foods." The FDA indicates that contaminated water is one of the most likely causes of norovirus. The FDA reports that "water is the most common source of outbreaks and may include water from municipal supplies, well, recreational lakes, swimming pools, and water stored aboard cruise ships.
Whatever the source of the virus on cruise ships, it is encouraging that there are doctors researching a vaccine against this dreaded sickness.
For other articles about noro virus on cruise ships, consider reading:
Top: Reuters via Mail Online
Middle & Bottom: CruiseCritic