Scientology cruise ship quarantined over confirmed case of measles

A cruise ship

A cruise ship

A cruise ship with almost 300 passengers and crew remained quarantined Wednesday (May 1) in St. Lucia after officials confirmed a crew member had a case of measles, NBC News reports.

The Pan American Health Organization and Caribbean Public Health Agency are working with St. Lucian officials, said Dr. Merlene Fredericks-James, the island nation's chief medical officer.

In her YouTube announcement, James referred to the current measles outbreaks in the USA, and advised residents traveling to the US and other parts of the world that they ensure they and their children are adequately vaccinated against the disease.

The ship has been under quarantine since Monday morning, officials said. "So because of the risk of potential infection, not just from the confirmed measles case but from other persons who may be on the boat at the time, we thought it prudent to make a decision not to allow anyone to disembark", she said.

"It is therefore likely that other persons on the boat may have been exposed".

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Almost 300 passengers are now on the quarantined ship, and the confirmed case was found in a female crew member, NBC News reported.

While Fredericks-James did not name the vessel during a televised statement Tuesday, NBC News quoted Coast Guard Sergeant Victor Theodore as saying that that the vessel involved is named "Freewinds", which is the name of a 440-foot cruise ship owned and operated by the Church of Scientology. The church couldn't immediately be reached for comment.

Ms James refused to name the ship or where it had arrived from, but said the crew and passengers would not be allowed to leave. For a Scientologist, boarding the ship is "the most significant spiritual accomplishment of his lifetime and brings with it the full realization of his immortality".

In an interview with the website Beliefnet, Scientology Rev. John Carmichael said the organization has no official rules about vaccinations.

It's the highest number of reported cases in the U.S.in a year since 1994.

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