(USA TODAY) — A cruise ship has been quarantined at the Caribbean port of St. Lucia because of a confirmed measles case, health officials said Wednesday.
Officials ordered 300 passengers and crew members on Monday not to leave the ship after determining one female crew member had contracted measles.
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.
“Because of the risk of the 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 let anyone disembark,” Fredericks-James said in a video posted Wednesday on YouTube.
The quarantine comes amid a surge of cases, largely among unvaccinated people in New York City, suburban Rockland County, New York, and Washington state.
Last week, the country recorded the highest number of measles cases in 25 years, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported. Hundreds of students and staff at two Los Angeles universities were put on quarantine last week because of possible exposure.
The quarantined vessel is a 440-foot cruise ship owned by the Church of Scientology, NBC News confirmed with the St. Lucia Coast Guard.
St. Lucian authorities cannot keep the ship from leaving or determine its next destination, Fredericks-James told NBC News. The organization reported the ship is scheduled to leave late Thursday.
In her statement, Fredericks-James reminded residents of the island to get themselves and their children vaccinated from the highly contagious viral infection — especially if they travel to and from the United States.
Measles can be spread through coughing and sneezing. A two-dose vaccine is safe and 97% effective against measles, according to the CDC.