At least once a year, it seems, you hear about a cruise ship full of passengers whose vacation plans are dashed when hundreds of passengers are suddenly taken ill forcing the ship to dock, disembark, and ultimately, disinfect. In truth, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports these outbreaks occur almost monthly. In 2011, the agency reported 14 separate outbreaks on 11 ships affecting more than 1,200 passengers and crew.
What you’re really hearing about is a viral outbreak of one sort or another, typically, the norovirus which causes stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. The last things anyone wants on a cruise.
All Hands on All Decks
While not entirely preventable, these types of pain-inflicting and revenue-reducing disasters can be mitigated and their numbers substantially reduced. The CDC explains that norovirus is “a very contagious virus that can infect anyone. You can get it from an infected person, contaminated food or water, or by touching contaminated surfaces.”
No doubt, the hygiene and sanitation practices of the cruise ship operator needs improvement as well. The high-density populations on cruise ships, coupled with the near-constant turnover of passengers every few days, and the necessity of controlled heating and air-conditioning systems, makes these vessels the perfect incubator for viruses.
Once established on board, a virus easily spreads among hundreds of passengers and crew who use the same dining, entertainment, recreational, and restroom facilities. And, every time the ship docks and passengers disembark for a day of sightseeing and shopping, the opportunity to bring new viral infections onboard is multiplied by the thousands.
The Best Defense Is a Strong Offense
But, good hygiene alone is not the answer, as any hospital risk manager can tell you. In as densely populated a place as a cruise ship, you need every weapon you can muster to stop the spread of bacteria.
These include mattress fabrics, shower curtains, pillow fabrics, and cubicle curtains with built-in advanced, antimicrobial properties to protect the fabric. And, the fact that they’re flame-resistant, odor- and stain-resistant as well, makes them an economical choice too.
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