Cruise Ship Crewmember Dies from Meningitis Infection

October 17, 2012

(8:45 a.m. EDT) -- One of four MSC Orchestra crewmembers diagnosed with bacterial meningitis has died, according to a statement from MSC.

Ermandiasa I Gede, a 32-year-old Indonesian crew member died Tuesday Oct. 16, nine days after he and three other crew members were hospitalized in Livorno, Italy.

"The company is closely following the condition of these [three] crew members," the statement said. "One of them left the hospital today and went back home, having almost completely recovered. The other two are still recovering in hospital, in Livorno and their condition is gradually improving."

More specifically, a 47-year-old Italian waiter from the ship remains on life support, though "his condition has improved markedly in recent days," while a 26-year-old Brazilian and 32-year-old Filipino crewmember are gradually recovering from the illness.

Meningococcal meningitis, which attacks the lining of the brain and the spinal cord, is passed by close contact with respiratory secretions or saliva, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. The U.S. Customer Care team for MSC has posted on the Cruise Critic forums, naming the specific strand of meningitis as Neisseria.

The 89,600-ton ship was carrying 2,718 passengers and 967 other crew when the outbreak occurred. All passengers and crew were given the antibiotic Ciprofloxacin, according to MSC, and Italy's health ministry have advised all passengers who disembarked the ship in the week prior to the outbreak to take similar precautions.

The ship has also been certified as free from contamination, according to the line.

MSC told Cruise Critic in an email: "Port health authorities from three separate countries (Italy, France, and Spain) have visited the ship since Sunday 7 October and each one has confirmed that MSC Orchestra is safe to carry on with her planned itinerary. This means that the ship complies with all international maritime health and safety regulations."

--by Jamey Bergman, U.K. Production Editor