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Cruise Control for Illnesses

Ships offer better medical care at sea these days

When planning to take a cruise, illness or injury may be the farthest thing from your mind. Fortunately, cruise lines have you covered, according to this story in the San Francisco Chronicle.

Shipboard doctors have to be ready for just about anything, from flu outbreaks, to passengers choking on food, to falls -- even the odd sea lion bite. MSNBC has an in-depth look at cruise-ship medicine, and notes that although liners are equipped for emergencies, they can't match hospitals in all areas of treatment.

With ships carrying as many as 4,500 passengers or more, shipboard medicine has grown more sophisticated in recent years, the Chronicle says. Now, telemedicine has been thrown into the mix, with cruise lines adding satellite hook-ups to hospitals to help handle emergencies.

In an attempt to make sure passengers are protected, the International Council of Cruise Lines developed voluntary minimum standards for medical staff and equipment, depending on the size of the ship and number of passengers. The council has information about cruise ships that might be useful to you.

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