Is it possible that tobacco growers could have found a more valuable and publically accepted use for their product? Well the first-ever vaccine for the norovirus – the virus that has known to wreak havoc on cruises, is being developed using the tobacco plant.
Experts say using engineered plant viruses allows them to ramp up vaccine production in weeks instead of months, which is important for viruses like the norovirus and the flu virus since they are constantly evolving.
The norovirus isn’t as dangerous as the flu virus, but spreads very quickly, making the tight quarters of a cruise ship susceptible to speedy, mass infection.
The clinical trials for the “Cruise Ship Virus” vaccine will commence in late 2009 or early 2010, and is not currently available for travelers.
Just like the flu virus, the CDC recommends frequent hand-washing to control the spread of the norovirus.