The Department of Health and Wellness continues to address the matter involving a confirmed case of measles on board a cruise ship, which entered our ports on Tuesday, April 30, 2019.

Given the highly infectious nature of measles, along with the possibility that other persons onboard the vessel may have been in contact with and are now possibly infectious due to this disease, a decision was made not to allow persons to disembark. This decision to quarantine the ship is in keeping with the health laws of Saint Lucia.

Our epidemiological investigation aboard the ship has verified that the confirmed case, as well as other crew and passengers are stable and remain under surveillance by the ship’s doctor. Continued surveillance is necessary as the incubation period for measles ranges from 10 to 12 days, before symptoms in exposed persons occur.

The Department of Health and Wellness and other agencies continue to provide support and welfare as needed to the ship. Today, the ship’s doctor requested 100 doses of the measles vaccine and this is currently being provided from our supplies, at no cost.

Saint Lucia’s public health response is being coordinated with other local agencies and partners and we remain in discussion with regional and international health agencies such as the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA).

We wish to remind persons that there are currently large measles outbreaks in some countries. Measles is spread through droplets from the nose, mouth or throat of infected persons who cough and sneeze. Early symptoms include high fever, runny nose, red eyes, and tiny white spots on the inside of the mouth. A rash may then develop, starting on the face and upper neck and then spreading throughout the body. The disease can be particularly severe in young children who are not immunized.

Infection with measles can be prevented if persons are fully immunized against the disease.