Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Seasick On the Queen Mary

I've never taken a cruise, and you couldn't get me on one with a gun to my head. One reason, among hundreds of others, is that waaaaaay too often, we see reports like this of infectious illnesses on cruise ships:

The cruise liner Queen Mary 2 has been sidetracked by an outbreak of what appears to have been norovirus contagion that sickened over 200 passengers and crew during a 12-day Christmas cruise in the Caribbean that was to have ended on Thursday. According to the latest update by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 201 of the ship's 2,613 passengers have become ill and 14 of the 1,255 crew, and the main symptoms of the illness -- which the CDC  lists as still "unknown" in origin -- are vomiting and diarrhea.

Norovirus, the common culprit in cruise ship contagion outbreaks, is one of those awful illnesses that is spread from person to person and caused by contaminated food or water.

The CDC says that two of its environmental health officers and an epidemiologist will board the Queen Mary 2 on its expected arrival in Brooklyn on Thursday to conduct an assessment.

The Queen Mary 2 operates under the Cunard Line brand of the Carnival cruise giant. In June of 2011, the Queen Mary 2 flunked a Vessel Sanitation Program health-inspection by the Centers for Disease Control and Inspection. According to Cruisecritic.com, CDC inspectors found dozens of violations, including some involving ice machines. "The word 'filthy' is used in the report five times," says the Cruisecritic.com item. Oddly, the excellent Cruisecritic.comhttp://www.cruisecritic.com/news/ -- which I found on a few occasions in the past to have exhibited some interest in critical cruise news -- seems to be slow on the uptake on this story. I'm guessing holiday schedules are why.

The Queen Mary 2 is currently "at sea" and steaming toward New York, according to the Cunard Web site.

This -- from a passenger on board the ship -- is interesting via the message board on the Queen Mary 2 that is on Cruisecritic.com:

"I don't understand how the number of crew members reported ill is so disproportionately low when compared to the number of passengers reported ill. ...  I just don't know how it is possible that the crew escaped infection to the same extent that passengers were affected, especially considering the crews exposure. We know that not all passengers report being ill, for various reasons. ... Perhaps crew members also have reasons for not reporting to sick bay?


Here's a link to the CDC situation report on the current crisis.

Here is a link to the CDC report on the failed inspection in June 2011.


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