Cruise Vaccines Miami Cruise Passengers With more than three million passengers passing through yearly, Miami is the undisputed cruise capital of the world and the gateway to Caribbean and South and Central America. In spite of admirable efforts made by cruise industry in terms of creating maintaining a clean and healthy shipboard environment, we learn periodically from the news regarding disease outbreaks on cruise ships. In the vast majority of the times the problems occur while visiting the countries of destination. In February 2004, a group of middle-aged novice travelers ventured to Costa Rica to tour the Braulio Carrillo National Park which rises and falls between cool high mountains and low torrid jungles, all of it washed by swift curving rivers and waterfalls. Unknown to them at the time, this lovely pristine region was actually a mosquito-infested area fraught with health perils. Eight of the group members contracted traveler’s diarrhea; four came down with typhoid fever, and two were infected with malaria. Although such extreme cases are rare, tropical environments are havens for cultivation of exotic diseases and anyone planning to visit the Caribbean, Mexico, South and Central America should check into the health hazards at their destinations and take appropriate measures to protect their health before they leave. Visit our Travel Medical Services page to learn more about preventative travel medicine, required and recommended vaccinations, and our customized approach to your travel immunizations. On May 17, 2011 the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) made the following recommendations for cruise passengers. STAYING HEALTHY ON A CRUISE Don’t risk spoiling your cruise vacation with an unexpected illness. Follow these tips for a safe and healthy cruise vacation. For many people, a cruise is an ideal way to relax and see the world. You are surrounded by the gorgeous blue of the ocean, get waited on hand and foot, have activities and events planned for you, and are provided with a seemingly limitless supply of food and drinks—all while having the opportunity to visit multiple countries and destinations. Although cruising has many obvious pleasures, certain health hazards are also a risk with cruise ship travel. Staying informed and preparing for these potential hazards can help you stay healthy and get the most out of your cruise vacation. Vaccines Regardless of your itinerary, you should be up-to-date on routine vaccines, such as measles/mumps/rubella, varicella, and seasonal flu. Crew members and fellow travelers often come from countries where these diseases are more common than in theUnited States and where vaccination is not routine. Consequently, outbreaks of chickenpox and rubella (German measles) have been reported on cruise ships. Additional vaccines you’ll need depend on where you’ll be stopping and what you’re going to do there. CDC’s general vaccination recommendations, by country, can be found on the Travelers’ Health destination pages. However, discuss the cruise itinerary and your specific travel plans with your doctor. If you’re stopping in a country only for a short time, or if you don’t plan to leave the tourist area around the dock, certain vaccines may not be necessary. Even if you are not at risk for yellow fever during port calls, some countries in Africa andSouth Americamay require proof of yellow fever vaccination if you have previously visited a country with yellow fever. Visit the destination pages for a country’s yellow fever requirements. Cruise ship companies sometimes have requirements that differ from those of the countries you will be visiting, so be sure to check with the cruise line about those requirements as well. Nausea, Vomiting, and Diarrhea Cruise ship outbreaks of nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea, primarily caused by norovirus, have been reported. The easiest way to avoid these problems is by frequent hand washing and use of alcohol-based hand cleaners. Most likely, you will see dispensers of these hand cleaners everywhere on a cruise ship—use them, especially if you have touched something other people have also touched (such as a stair railing). While on shore excursions, especially in developing countries, follow basic food and water precautions: eat only food that is cooked and served hot, drink only beverages from sealed containers, avoid ice, and eat fresh fruit only if you have washed it with clean water and peeled it yourself. Other Health Concerns Respiratory diseases are also common on cruise ships. Frequent hand washing can keep you from getting sick, and coughing or sneezing into a tissue (or your sleeve) can prevent you from spreading germs. Getting a flu shot is the best way to keep from getting the flu. Seasickness is a common complaint of cruise ship passengers. If you are (or think you might be) prone to seasickness, talk to your doctor about medicine to decrease your symptoms. Note that many common medications (including some antidepressants, painkillers, and birth control pills) can worsen the nausea of seasickness. Various stressors associated with cruising—changes in diet, variation in climate, changes to sleep and activity patterns—can worsen a chronic illness. If you have been diagnosed with such an illness, you should be prepared to monitor your health while on a cruise (for example, frequently testing your blood sugar if you have diabetes). If you regularly take medicine for a chronic illness, make sure you bring enough for the duration of the cruise, plus extra in case of delays, and take it on the same schedule as you would at home.