WILLEMSTAD, Curacao – The authorities in Curaçao have announced Saturday that 17 crew members and 11 passengers must remain on board a ship owned by the Church of Scientology that is in quarantine following a confirmed measles case.
The dott. Izzy Gerstenbluth said the group must remain on the 440-foot Freewinds ship until May 13 because they are still at risk of contracting measles after a female crew member contracted the disease.
He said that the remaining members of the crew and passengers, which amounted to 318, are free to leave the ship.
"They are no longer a threat to anyone and can no longer get sick," he said.
Church officials did not return messages for comment. According to the church's website, the ship is the home of "a religious retreat that carries the most advanced level of spiritual counseling".
The ship was previously quarantined in St. Lucia and arrived in its port of Curacao a week ago. The authorities then took 277 blood samples from those who had no proof of vaccination and sent them to the Netherlands.
Gerstenbluth said the female crew member who had been infected had been to Europe and arrived on April 17th in Curaçao with cold symptoms. The authorities said it was tested for measles, but had already left for St. Lucia before the results returned. Curacao officials then alerted the government of St. Lucia.
Symptoms include a runny nose, fever and a red rash. Most people recover, but in some cases measles can cause pneumonia, brain swelling and even death.
More than 700 people in 22 US states have obtained measles this year, with federal officials claiming that the resurgence is driven by misinformation about vaccines.