Possible Swine Flu Cases Emerge Among Cruise Ship Crew

May 10, 2009
Serenade of the Seas Two crewmembers aboard Royal Caribbean's 90,090-ton, 2,112-passenger Serenade of the Seas, currently sailing in Alaska, have recovered from flu-like symptoms, according to a cruise line statement.

Though both tested positive in shipboard testing for influenza A, samples have been submitted to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to confirm whether the H1N1 strain -- also known as swine flu -- was indeed present. No other crewmembers or passengers have tested positive for influenza A.

The two affected crewmembers were isolated on May 1 and May 4, respectively, after becoming ill -- standard procedure regarding any flu illness outbreak, according to the statement. The statement further says that both individuals were treated with Tamiflu, are fully recovered and can no longer be a source of an influenza infection.

In addition to treatment and isolation, other measures being taken to reduce the risk of the spread of influenza include the screening of all crew and passengers pre-boarding, and the placement of hand sanitizers throughout the ship. Passengers are encouraged through daily notices to contact the medical facility onboard should they experience flu-like symptoms.

The ship departed San Juan on April 18 for a Panama Canal transit that concluded in San Francisco on May 2. The ship called on Huatulco, Mexico, on April 26, and Acapulco, Mexico, on April 27. On April 28 -- one day after U.S. officials suggested restricting non-essential travel to Mexico -- Royal Caribbean suspended port calls in Mexico.

Serenade of the Seas is currently sailing a 14-night Alaska cruise, which departed San Francisco on May 2 and ends in Vancouver on May 16. Interestingly, the Seattle Times reports that the state of Alaska conducted its own testing on a sample taken from the ship when it arrived in Ketchikan, but the sample was negative for influenza A -- likely because of the effectiveness of the Tamiflu medication being administered.

We'll keep you posted.

--by Melissa Baldwin Paloti, Managing Editor

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