May 1 (UPI) — Health officials in the Caribbean island of St. Lucia quarantined a cruise ship with 300 passengers after doctors diagnosed a crew member with measles.
Dr. Merlene Fredericks James, the country’s chief medical officer, said medical officials believe other people on board the vessel could have been infected with the disease.
“As per the Quarantine Act, our authority under the Quarantine Act, the Public Health Act, and after internal discussions as well as discussions with external health agencies such as the Pan-American Health Organization, we thought it prudent that we quarantine the ship,” she said. “The crew and passengers aboard were not allowed to leave.”
She said the ship’s doctor quarantined the ill crew member, who was in stable condition.
Though the island can prevent anyone on board from leaving the ship to come onto the island, they can’t stop the ship from leaving the port. Officials said the ship was expected to leave just before midnight Thursday.
“Measles is a highly contagious disease. Anyone who is not adequately immunized against measles can contract the disease, if there has been close contact with a confirmed case,” Fredericks James said. “It is therefore likely that other persons on the boat may have been exposed.”
St. Lucia Coast Guard Sgt. Victor Theodore told NBC News the ship involved in the quarantine is named Freewinds, which is operated by the Church of Scientology.
Earlier this week, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said there have been more than 700 reported measles cases in the United States this year, the highest number in a quarter-century. More than 500 of the infected were not vaccinated against measles, officials said.