Kudos to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) for another one of its periodic updates on the dreaded norovirus, often wrongly labeled as a disease that's common on cruise ships.

In a Vital Signs report last week, the CDC reminded consumers that the gastrointestinal disease strikes about 20 million Americans a year, but that outbreaks on cruise ships account for only about 1% of all norovirus outbreaks.

Travel professionals who want to keep these statistics handy can download them from www.cdc.gov.

• • •

A tip of the hat is also appropriate for the Star Alliance, which finally has something to brag about at London's Heathrow, a major hub of the rival Oneworld alliance.

Star Alliance stalwarts such as United and Lufthansa, as powerful as they are, are no match for British Airways and American at Heathrow, but with the opening of Heathrow's new Terminal 2 ("The Queen's Terminal"), United will at least have all its operations and lounges under one roof.

More to the point -- it's a big enough roof to accommodate all 22 of the Star Alliance carriers that serve Heathrow, and all of them will be moving in over the next several months.

It's hard to see any of these giant alliances as "underdogs," but the alliance game has created strongholds at some major hub airports where one or the other grouping is particularly strong.

Thus we welcome any development that tends to give a leg up to an "underdog."

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