Tag Archives: flu virus

Avoid Getting Sick on a Cruise

Avoid Getting Sick on a Cruise

Virus outbreaks on cruise ships have been making news headlines recently. While these headlines can be alarming, outbreaks on cruise ships actually affect less than 1% of all passengers, according to the CDC.

Cruise lines are very careful about hygiene and sanitary measures on their ships, and the main health risk is contact with a person who’s contagious, even through touching the same handles, handrails, and elevator buttons. If one passenger is sick, a contagious illness can spread quickly since a cruise ship is the perfect closed environment for an outbreak.

Follow these few simple steps to avoid getting sick on a cruise to steer clear of flu viruses, stomach bugs, norovirus, and other infectious conditions from Assist America, our global travel emergency assistance partner:

  1. See your doctor before your departure.

    6 weeks before your vacation, plan to get a full check-up and ask your doctor about your destination(s). Your doctor will make sure you have all the vaccines you need for your trip and can recommend important medicines for you to bring in case of sickness.

  2. Pack plenty of sanitizer and wipes.

    While rooms are thoroughly cleaned, an extra wipe down of your cabin’s phone, doorknobs, and remotes can’t hurt. Always carry hand sanitizer with you to disinfect your hands as often as possible.

  3. No sharing.

    No matter how much you trust your travel buddies, don’t share plates or silverware and don’t sample cocktails. Remember that a person can be contagious without showing symptoms.

  4. Wash your hands properly.

    While hand sanitizer does the trick, it does not replace a good hand wash under warm soapy water for about 30 seconds. Once you’re done, dry your hands with a paper towel and use it to turn the faucet off and to touch the restroom’s door handle while exiting.

  5. Opt for cooked and pasteurized foods.

    Besides norovirus, other microbes like salmonella and listeria can also cause a living nightmare on a cruise ship. While salads, fruits, and raw seafood is safe on reputable cruise lines, use caution when you are dining onshore in less developed regions. High cooking temperatures kill bacteria and viruses that can upset your stomach, so maybe get your steak well-done. Bacteria can also thrive in unpasteurized dairy or egg, so ask the staff if the food is pasteurized before you savor that cheese platter.

  6. Use your own bathroom.

    Although public restrooms on a cruise ship are frequently sanitized and cleaned, using your own cabin’s bathroom is the safest bet.

  7. Watch for sick travelers.

    If you see another passenger who appears to be sick, steer clear. If you see someone coughing or vomiting, inform a crew member so that they can clean the mess, assess the situation, and potentially isolate that passenger.

  8. Use bottled water.

    While water is generally safe on reputable cruise lines, using bottled water to drink and brush your teeth can help you avoid getting sick should a rare water contamination occur. Always use bottled water when you are enjoying a day onshore.

If, after taking precautions, you still get sick during a cruise, go to the ship’s medical center for a consultation. If the medical team can’t treat you, you’ll probably be sent to a clinic at the next port.

If you need further assistance, make sure to call Assist America’s 24/7 Operations Center for help. A coordinator can help you find a qualified medical facility, fill a prescription at a local pharmacy, and more.

Beat the Flu Before It Starts

The Importance of Getting That Flu Shot

Each year, you see reminders that you should get your flu shots everywhere you go. But only about 42.1 million people in the U.S. do, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Less than half of adults under the age of 65 got the shot during the 2014 to 2015 flu season.

But the flu is still dangerous, and people can and do die from it each year. And we don’t know how serious the flu will be each year. From 1976 to 2007, the number of people who’ve died each year has ranged from 3,000 to 49,000.

And in recent years, 80 to 90% of those deaths have been in the 65-or-older population.

So while you may not have thought the flu was a danger before, make sure you get the facts and get protected this year.

What is the Flu Season?

Flu season in the United States can start as early as October and last until as late as May. The most serious period of outbreaks usually peaks in January.

The flu makes its way through the American people during this time, and a flu shot is the best way to protect yourself and those around you each year.

Who Needs to Get the Flu Shot?

Everyone over 6 months old should get the flu shot, but it’s especially important for kids, pregnant women, and those over 65. The flu can be more dangerous for these people and for others at high risk.

Even if you may not be in one of these groups, you should still get the shot. While you never want to get sick, it’s important to get your shot to help your community and those most at risk around you.

Like with all vaccines, the more people who get protected, the less likely the flu will appear in your community at all. The more people who aren’t protected, the more likely it is that lots of people will get sick, even those who did get protected, because it can get stronger passing between people.

Who Should Not Get the Shot?

Different flu vaccines work for different people, so your age, current or past health, and allergies can all affect if you should get the shot. Some people shouldn’t get the shot, and some people are at risk and should talk to their doctor first.

When Should I Get the the Shot?

You should get vaccinated as early as you can, usually before or in October. It takes about 2 weeks for your body to build antibodies to the flu from the vaccines, so it’s best to get it before the flu starts to spread in your community. However, it’s better to get it early or late rather than never.

How Does the Flu Shot Work?

To make vaccines, scientists and drug makers study what strains of the flu virus happen in the lower half of the world during its flu season, June, July, and August, and use this to build flu shots for our flu season.

Depending on how well that vaccine matches the flu virus in our flu season, it can reduce the overall risk of flu by 50 to 60%.

While it helps you build your resistance to the flu, flu shots can’t actually give you the flu because the virus is dead before it’s put in the shot.

For the next flu season, shots will include 3 or 4 strains, but the nasal vaccine shouldn’t be used this year, according the CDC. Recent studies have shown it wasn’t effective in the past few flu seasons.

You need a new shot every year because your protection fades over time, and because the shot could be made up of different strains from year to year.

Get your flu shot at covered pharmacies and protect your family and community this flu season.