In our last blog, our maritime attorneys discussed a suspected measles outbreak in Alaska. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Anchorage Quarantine Station, a cruise ship crew member allegedly came into contact with “a confirmed measles case aboard”. Despite the fact that the CDC did not specify which ship the crew member was on, the organization did report that the crew member showed the “classic clinical symptoms of measles” and additionally had come into contact with others while on international and domestic flights.
The CDC conducts two yearly sanitation inspections on all cruise ships calling on U.S. ports, and many have repeatedly failed. This means that there is a very possible risk that if the crew member did in fact have measles, the crew member may not have been quarantined, nor the areas he or she was exposed to. And given the fact that measles is extremely contagious and can spread through airborne exposure to the virus, it is imperative that anyone considering going on a cruise to Alaska understand the risks of being exposed to measles, as well as their options for staying as healthy as possible. Our maritime lawyers have a few tips for potential cruisers to avoid the chance of contagion.
Wash Hands Frequently
We cannot stress this enough. Aside from measles, many other illnesses – including Norovirus (which often affects cruise passengers) – can be transmitted through contact with infected materials. Washing hands often, as well as using sanitation products such as antibacterial lotions and sprays for all personal belongings inside a cabin, can drastically reduce the chance you or a loved one will become infected with a virus on board your vessel. Additionally, if you are planning on traveling with young children, it’s important to make sure they avoid touching their mouths, eyes, and nose if they have not washed their hands. Viruses can spread very quickly on a ship, but by washing hands as often as possible, you can remove a huge threat of spreading and contracting illnesses on board.
Take Your Vitamins
Another great way to minimize your chances of getting sick while on your cruise vacation is to boost your immune system with vitamins and healthy foods. Take a multivitamin and try to eat as healthy as possible prior to your cruise and bring a care package with your essentials to have on board with you whenever you need. You can bring vitamins, cold medicine, anti-inflammatory medication, and other materials that can reduce your chances of getting sick, as well as keep you as comfortable as possible in the event you do become ill. As far as eating healthy on a ship, well, we all know that can be a bit of a difficult task. However, all ships feature salad bars or a healthy meal option for guests, including fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. If you don’t find the option for healthy eating readily available, speak with your ship’s maître d’ and they will let you know what your options are.
Avoid Enclosed Spaces
Viruses love small spaces. The smaller the space, the easier they can spread. And on a cruise ship, there aren’t very many places that are completely open and ventilated. There are dozens of tight corridors and confined areas. Even guest cabins are relatively small. However, by sticking to areas such as the open lido deck or even – if need be – ordering room service to avoid contamination. The lido deck is always a great option because there are constant activities for guests of all ages, pools and hot tubs, as well as several dining areas. You can even bring your meal out to the lido deck and enjoy the view and breeze.
Get a Good Night’s Sleep
Though it can be difficult while on a cruise vacation, staying as well rested as possible lowers your chances of getting sick, as well as improves your immune system’s response when in contact with viruses. Try to get to bed at a decent time – especially if you have any morning activities planned. Even if you do not get sick, you’ll still enjoy all the benefits of a good night’s sleep, including greater energy, attention, and mental clarity.
These are just a few tips that can help you and your loved ones avoid getting sick on your next cruise. Additionally, given that measles can result in life-threatening complications, including pneumonia, encephalitis (acute inflammation of the brain), and corneal ulcerations, if would also be a good idea to consider getting yourself and loved ones immunized prior to your cruise. The measles vaccine is commonly administered to young children, but adults without immunization can speak with their personal care physician about getting the vaccine and lowering their chances of a measles outbreak or the symptoms associated with the measles virus.