Controlling Infections on Cruise Ships

Friday 05, September

Infectious outbreaks on cruise ships may not be all that common, but they certainly seem like it. When certain viruses are let loose on board a ship, there is a good chance that the close quarters will offer the perfect breeding ground for viral strains and ensure that such infections are far more likely to be passed from person to person.

When the likes of gastroenteritis or the norovirus norovirus are exposed on a cruise liner, there is a good chance that it will be big news. Even if companies decide to put certain precautions in place to limit the chances of infection spreading, the relevant supplies and knowledge will need to already be on hand as there is little that can be done to source such things once a virus takes hold in the middle of the ocean.

The results of an outbreak can be crippling; financially for those companies who didn’t do enough to prevent such incidents and physically for those who find themselves stricken and bed bound by diseases or viruses.

Sea sick

Cruises are becoming more popular all the time, with many millions choosing to vacation by such means every single year. With prices falling, the recession behind us and individuals feeling safer than ever at sea as new technologies are introduced, the popularity of cruises is also only likely to grow. However, whilst this is good news for certain operators, those that are constantly in the news for the wrong reasons as viral strains spread on board their ships are likely to see their passenger numbers dwindle in spite of the rising numbers of holidaymakers taking to the sea.

The type of environment offered by cruise ships means that infectious diseases will breed and spread far more quickly, and in turn potentially serve to ruin the holidays of hundreds in one fell swoop. Yet, while such viruses will spread more quickly on board than off, the chances of them taking hold in the first place can be significantly reduced with the right precautions.

Sanitation

Certain viruses will come into circulation simply due to poor sanitation. As such, there will need to be a huge amount of focus placed on the effective handling and preparation of food as well as the protection of potable water. Prevention will be better than a cure, as the likes of the norovirus will be very difficult to control.

Control measures

However, when precautionary measures do fail, there will be a certain amount that ships can do to control any infection on board. Taking the right steps may not only save people a huge amount of discomfort and help more people to enjoy a fulfilling holiday, but in turn such control measures could vastly increase a company’s profits and ensure that their name is not dragged through the mud as a result of such an incident.

In some respects prevention and control will be similar. Staff and indeed passengers should be encouraged to wash their hand regularly, especially after visiting the toilet and before handling any food. The use of specific infection control products should be a high priority too. From hand gels and disinfectants to rubber gloves and aprons, there will be many items that can help crews to mitigate the potential issues that could arise when a virus is let loose on ship.

Responding as quickly as possible will be vital. After a case has been reported, it is imperative that staff do not wait to see if others fall ill too. Instead they will need to take immediate steps to disinfect contaminated surfaces and dispose of or remove items that may have been infected.

Having the right control measures on hand, such as those offered on our website, as well as ensuring that sanitation is of the highest priority and that response times are kept to a minimum in the case of an outbreak, should together help both crew and passengers to more effectively keep such issues under control.


 

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