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The Weirdest Diseases You Can Get at Sea

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When you're on a cruise or sailing, it's easy to feel like you don't have a care in the world. In fact, beside seasickness, you might not even consider the prospect of getting ill. But maybe you should, because there are a few particularly aggressive diseases you can get at sea. Sure, you can get most of them on land, too. But there's a much bigger risk of these nasty ocean diseases when you're packed in close quarters on a ship and surrounded by water-loving mosquitoes. 

Not all diseases you can get on the ocean are that serious. They can be itchy, annoying, and uncomfortable, but that's about it. Still, others will not only ruin your trip, but could actually kill you. Whether you're a sailor by trade or just someone sailing on vacation, there are a whole lot of medical conditions that are likely to hit you harder because you're out on the ocean.

Take a look at these medical risks before you head out to sea. Oh, and stock up on mosquito repellent. 
  • Photo: Metaweb (FB) / Public domain
    You might think of Scurvy as an old-fashioned disease that isn't around anymore, but that's not true. Scurvy results from a lack of vitamin C and can lead to gross stuff like gum bleeding, skin bleeding, and problems fending off diseases. Most people get vitamin C from fruit, and considering most fruit doesn't keep for very long, it can be hard to get it on ships or in remote places. Even in today's world of vitamin tablets and canned fruit, it can still be easy to forget about your vitamin C intake and fall prey to Scurvy. 
  • Norovirus

    Photo: fred0 / flickr / CC-BY-NC-ND 2.0
    If you think a little food poisoning is bad, then you've never had Norovirus. Noro causes you to purge your body of (what feels like) everything in it from both ends, and it usually takes several days before it lets up and you start to feel better. While you can get Noro on land, it's far more common for it to pop up on cruise ships. It passes more quickly through large, tightly-packed groups of people, which is why you hear about emergencies like the one that caused 200 vacationers to get sick
  • Photo: Metaweb (FB) / Public domain
    Swimming in the sea can be fun, but also very dangerous. This skin infection is spread by snails. Yes, snails. The little sea slimers infect both fresh and salt water with microscopic parasites, and those parasites can give you a pretty vicious rash that burns, itches, and blisters. It will eventually go away, but it could take up to a week or longer of itchy discomfort. 
  • MRSA

    MRSA is yet another disease that runs rampant on cruise ships, mostly because it can be spread by skin-to-skin contact. A staph bacteria infection, people who get MRSA can have skin boils, fever, and more. Even worse, the infection tends to be highly resistant to normal antibiotics. This bacteria has been found in cruise ship hot tubs and passes easily, so even relaxing on board still has the potential to get you sick