OK, so slowly staggering back…

And so are a large number of people on the Scottish cruise liner, the Marco Polo. Over half of the  passengers on board developed a norovirus infection within a few days of leaving port. Symptoms of a noroviral infection include abdominal cramping and vomiting that will run its course over a couple of days.

Sadly, for those of you who know how infectious noroviruses are and how stable and long-lived they are in the environment:

It has emerged that passengers on the previous voyage of the Marco Polo who disembarked on Saturday were also struck with a sickness bug.

However,  cruise operators are saying that this previous spattering of illness was simple gastroenteritis and had given the ship  a “clean bill of health”. However, four days later, 400 people are sick with norovirus. That is quite a coincidence.

And equally disturbing, in an earlier report by the BBC :

Invergordon councillor Maxine Smith criticised the way the situation had been handled, claiming that potentially infected passengers were allowed to wander through the town after the ship docked there. She said there were reports of some passengers vomiting in the streets.

So…Points to ponder:

1. Is it wrong to keep passengers detained on a ship full of sick individuals until symptoms pass completely?

2.What if they leave while contagious to spread the infection to the port community or their home communities?

3. Why weren’t the cruise operators required to prove that the “gastroenteritis” wasn’t norovirus?

4. Should all cruise ship operators be forced to take their own cruises before allowing an innocent boatload of tourists on board a ship after an outbreak of “gastroenteritis”?

Finally, microbiology tip of the day: Hand sanitizers may or may not be effective against the norovirus. Simple hand washing with running water and soap works best.

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