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Cruising for Contagions - Viral Outbreak on the MS Amsterdam (11/22/2002)

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Imagine yourself in this situation: You've saved for an entire year to pay for a fabulous 10-day cruise, but once you arrive at the port, a cruise line rep hands you a letter telling you that a highly contagious virus has run rampant on the ship, making hundreds of people sick. The cruise is still on, but the virus will be part of the onboard entertainment.

Thousands of cruisers have found themselves in this very situation over the last couple months. Nearly 500 passengers on Holland America's MS Amsterdam have been stricken with the Norwalk virus on the past four sailings. The virus won't kill you, but it will make you pretty nauseous for a couple days. This past Tuesday, Holland America announced that it's docking the ship so it can be completely disinfected. The next cruise leaves in a week.

Would you want to be on that sailing? We talk to a woman from Georgia who has no choice. She booked the cruise one year ago and can't afford to lose the thousands of dollars she has already spent.

We also get some advice from Rudy Maxa on how to handle this kind of situation. Plus: The head of the Vessel Sanitation Program at the Centers for Disease Control tells us about the CDC's viral swat team -- and how to disinfect a whole freakin' cruise ship.

Savvy Resources:

Information on the CDC's Vessel Sanitation Program: http://www.cdc.gov/nceh/vsp/default.htm

Information on viral gastrointestinal diseases: http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dvrd/gastro.htm

Information on Holland America: http://www.hollandamerica.com/explore/sailsched/sailsched.htm

Information on Lysol disinfecting wipes: http://homesolutionsnews.com/rbdocs/us/lysol/product_page/productallp.html

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