Tag Archives: salmonella

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.

Flaming Hot

Hot Enough

There’s a good reason to make sure you’re always cooking your meat to the right temps: foodborne illness.

Foodborne illness, or food poisoning, is when you eat or drink foods that are contaminated by bacteria, viruses, parasites, or even poisonous chemicals. There are more than 250 different foodborne illnesses. The top 5 are the most dangerous.

Myths vs. Facts

Myth: Food poisoning is rare and not that serious.

Facts:

Foodborne Illness Stats
Statistics via the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

 

Myth: I will know if I have food poisoning.

Facts: Food poisoning is often blamed on things like “a stomach bug,” but it can have many symptoms.

The most common symptoms are nausea, vomiting, stomach cramps, and diarrhea. You could experience all of these or just one. It really depends on what caused it.

Myth: This happened because my food was dirty.

Facts: There are lots of reasons this can happen.

Fresh fruit and veggies can be contaminated if they’re washed in tainted water or touched by unwashed hands or sick people who help process the food.

Some healthy animals have certain kinds of bacteria to help their digestion. These can come in contact with the meat you eat during processing. Salmonella, one of the most dangerous foodborne illnesses, can infect a hen so that its eggs are infected from the start.

Leaving raw food to thaw out of the fridge or leaving cooked food out for too long, like at a potluck or BBQ, can let bacteria grow.

Food coming into contact during cooking with raw meats or dirty cutting boards and knives can spread the bacteria to things that were clean!

What Should I Do?

First, make sure you’re washing your fruits and veggies after you buy them and storing things safely.

Heat can kill bacteria, so always make sure you cook your food to the right temperature. You can do this by using a food thermometer.

Place the thermometer in the thickest part of the food, but it shouldn’t be touching bone or fat. Check the temp toward the end of cooking but before you think it will be done. And make sure to clean it well with hot, soapy water between each use.

Use these handy guides to cook and grill your food to safe temperatures:

Meat & Poultry Temperature Guide
Image via Food Network
Grill Master Guide
Image via LifeHacker

 

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