Ebola Scare Highlights Cruise Ship Safety Concerns

As if the ebola scare needed another angle, it now appears that someone who may have been exposed to the virus is aboard a cruise ship, of all things. It’s possible nothing will come of this, but if it does, it will call into play many of the topics that we have discussed regarding cruise line safety and standards previously on our blog.

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Exposed Passenger on a Cruise Ship

It is well known that a patient in a Dallas hospital died from ebola, apparently after the hospital staff waited too long treat him. Nurses from that hospital are also now alleging that there were no safety standards in the hospital for those nurses, and that nurses who treated the patient may have exposed the virus to other patients, and blood taken from the patient may have contaminated the hospital’s supply. Two nurses who did have direct contact with the patient have contracted the disease.

Making matters worse, it now appears that one of those hospital staff who may have been exposed, a lab technician for the Dallas hospital, is aboard a carnival cruise ship.

The CDC has reported that it has been many days since her exposure, and the technician has reported no symptoms at all. The cruise line says that the technician is currently isolated from the rest of the crew.

The cruise ship was supposed to dock in Belize. The ship did dock, but the passenger in question did not get off the ship. The government of Belize, apparently frightened for its own safety, refused a request by the U.S. to assist in evacuating the technician (who, again, as of now, has displayed no signs of having the disease).

Cruise Ships are Ill Prepared to Deal with Such Diseases

Although this may be a false scare, it raises many concerns. As we’ve discussed before in this blog, cruise ships are petri dishes for disease. The small quarters, close contact, and isolated nature of a ship create an ideal breeding ground for contagious diseases.

We’ve also discussed the inadequacy and ill training of some cruise line medical staffs. Certainly, if a major U.S. hospital wasn’t prepared to identify ebola, and properly quarantine and protect its staff, it would be unlikely that a cruise ship medical staff would be able to.

Additionally, like any disease, ebola requires self-reporting—that is, a patient has to go to the doctor when he feels ill. At home, patients are much more likely to do so than on a cruise ship. Passengers on a vacation may be very hesitant to see a doctor when they first develop symptoms, meaning that even if the ship handled quarantine procedures perfectly, by the time they were aware of the disease, it may have already spread.

The point is not to be paranoid about ebola, or cruising. Just the scare itself shows how the lackadaisical standards and poor oversight and monitoring of cruise ship safety can lead to a real disaster.

If you have questions about cruise line safety or were injured as a cruise passenger, talk to the Florida cruise ship accident attorneys at Gerson & Schwartz, P.A. for a free consultation to discuss your rights.

Photo Credit: ecstaticist via Compfight cc

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