COMMUNICABLE DISEASES AND CLOSE QUARTERS
Tips for Staying Healthy at Sea
One of the most enjoyable aspects of liveaboard dive boats, cruises and group dive travel is the social environment. You can meet some terrific people with diverse backgrounds and sit around in the evenings sharing stories of the day’s adventures and previous great dives. Some of the new friendships may last long past the time spent at sea. Unfortunately, with the good may come the bad – and sometimes the ugly. Communicable diseases can be passed among people who share confined living spaces such as those found on cruise ships, liveaboards and commercial aircraft.
You would have to be living in a media vacuum to have missed the large number of reports of disease outbreaks on cruise ships in
Most of these viral pathogens cause symptoms approximately 36 to 48 hours after contact with an infectious individual. The most common viruses that cause cold symptoms are the rhinoviruses and coronaviruses. These viruses are spread from person to person by respiratory droplets and do not generally cause severe illness. They can, however, affect dive plans by making it difficult to breathe through a regulator or inhibiting a diver’s ability to equalise pressure in the ears or sinuses. While over-the-counter medications may ease symptoms, they may also have problematic side effects or wear off at inopportune times. Some over-the-counter preparations are advertised as curative but in fact are mostly nutritional supplements with no proof of their effectiveness. Most doctors trained in dive medicine will advise patients with acute illness against diving – especially if the illness warrants the use of medication.
One problematic group of respiratory viruses is those that cause influenza (“the