Cruise ship quarantined over confirmed measles case

Cruise ship quarantined over confirmed measles case

The ship and its roughly 300 passengers and crew members have been sitting in the Caribbean port of St. Lucia after the confirmed case of the highly contagious disease, according to NBC News. "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. But as measles cases continue to surge in the United States and other areas with tourism ties to St. Lucia, residents have been bracing themselves, fearing the virus could find its way there aboard plane or boat.

The church couldn't immediately be reached for comment.

The global vessel-monitoring website MarineTraffic.com also showed that a Panamanian-flagged passenger ship identified as SMV Freewinds docked in port near the St. Lucia capital of Castries. The 440-foot-long ship has been quarantined since Monday due to a female crew member's measles diagnosis, meaning no one can disembark onto the island, though the ship can leave port whenever it pleases, NBC News reports. It says on its website the ship is a religious retreat at the pinnacle of a Scientologist's spiritual journey.

This developing story will be updated as more information becomes available.

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In an interview with the website Beliefnet, Scientology Rev. John Carmichael said the organization has no official rules about vaccinations. "They make their own decisions, but those aren't decisions that the church tries to influence in any way". Hundreds of students and staff at two Los Angeles universities were put on quarantine last week because of possible exposure.

As measles - and the fear of it - has spread, quarantines and scares have become increasingly common.

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

The vast majority of USA cases have occurred in children who have not received the three-way vaccines against measles, mumps and rubella (MMR), which confers immunity to the disease, officials said.

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