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Norovirus vaccine results looking good: More clinical trials before it's available

Rightly or not, norovirus is known as the "cruise ship virus" because almost every time it surfaces in a public way, it's on a cruise ship. It also happens wherever large numbers of people gather, particularly in fairly confined spaces, and you need no other proof that it is not confined to ships than this one from a recent study: "The overall cost of the disease in the U.S. is $5.5 billion a year."

That's right, billion. That's also right, every year. Imagine what would happen to the cruise industry if this disease was exclusive to cruise passengers.

Having written that, as they say, anything that can eradicate the norovirus is good. Maybe not eradicate, but reduce it. And according to researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an experimental vaccine appears to be working.

Or helping.

The CDC reported that the vaccine's first trial reduced vomiting and diarrhea by 52 per cent among people who contracted norovirus. There are still more clinical trials needed before the vaccine becomes available. The study was presented this month at IDWeek2013, a conference on infectious diseases in San Francisco.

So things are going in the right direction.

This is of interest to anyone who goes on cruises, in particular people who have — like one of us — compromised immune systems that leave you more susceptible to infection.

Last week, there was another report about norovirus (see cruiselawnews.com) about many passengers and crew on the Celebrity Summit. Whether the report is true or not, it didn't reflect well on Celebrity, the latest cruise line to be stricken with the bug.

And it emphasized, once again, why the vaccine is so important.

Holland America Nieuw Amsterdam
7 nights
November 17, 2013
Fort Lauderdale (return): Half Moon CayGrand CaymanCozumelKey West
Inside: $399
Cost per day: $57
www.hollandamerica.com

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