Update: Legionnaires' Confirmed in Black Watch Illnesses

August 1, 2007
Fred. Olsen Pax On Mend After Outbreak
Suspected Legionnaires' Outbreak on Fred. Olsen Cruise in Baltic

Update: The Health Protection Agency (the U.K. equivelent of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) has cleared Fred. Olsen's Black Watch to set sail from Dover on its next cruise tomorrow as scheduled; it's been docked there since last night for an extensive cleaning after at least two passengers fell ill with Legionnaires' disease. Both are still in the hospital and responding well to treatment, according to an official cruise line statement.

(July 31) -- At least two of the seven Black Watch passengers who fell ill on a 17-night Baltic cruise have tested positive for Legionnella, better know as Legionnaires' disease. According to an official statement issued by Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines, both remain hospitalized in Stockholm, but are "comfortable and responding well to treatment."

Four of the other passengers have returned home to the U.K., and the seventh remains in Stockholm with an unrelated illness. All were transferred from the ship to the hospital on July 27 during a scheduled port of call in Stockholm upon falling ill with pneumonia-like symptoms.

Though most cases can be treated successfully with antibiotics, Legionnaires' can be deadly -- and the elderly (usually 65 years of age or older) are most susceptible. Most Fred. Olsen customers are aged over 60, and according to the U.K.'s Times Online, the passengers who fell ill were in their 70's and 80's.

Investigations are currently underway to determine where the infection may have been contracted; the vessel had previously visited five ports in northern Europe before arriving in Stockholm. It's currently docked in Dover and an extensive cleaning is underway, a company spokesman tells us.

We'll keep you posted.

--by Melissa Baldwin, Senior Editor