Are Cruise Ships Vectoring Chikungunya Virus to Florida?

Today I received a comment from a Royal Caribbean passenger who said that he was infected with the dreaded chikungunya virus when he sailed to St. Martin last year on the Oasis of the Seas:

You might need a new cruise category "Disease" as the cruise industry has become a vector for spreading the Caribbean epidemic of Chikungunya Fever virus to Florida . . . I got infected during my Oasis trip to St Martin last Dec - this thing is horrible and can be catastrophic for older passengers - one major "coincidental" cause of increased death among these folks isn't the virus ... it is suicide. 

He also referred me to an article on a local CBS station "Fourth Case Of Mosquito Borne Chikungunya Chikungunya Cruise ShipFever Confirmed In Florida."

The disease is transmitted through infected mosquitos.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) says:

"The most common symptoms of chikungunya virus infection are fever and joint pain. Other symptoms may include headache, muscle pain, joint swelling, or rash. Outbreaks have occurred in countries in Africa, Asia, Europe, and the Indian and Pacific Oceans. In late 2013, chikungunya virus was found for the first time in the Americas on islands in the Caribbean. Chikungunya virus is not currently found in the United States (no longer true). There is a risk that the virus will be imported to new areas by infected travelers (now true). There is no vaccine to prevent or medicine to treat chikungunya virus infection. Travelers can protect themselves by preventing mosquito bites. When traveling to countries with chikungunya virus, use insect repellent, wear long sleeves and pants, and stay in places with air conditioning or that use window and door screens."

We have been contacted in the last 6 months by many cruisers concerned about being infected. But this is the first time that someone has contacted us after being bitten by an infected mosquito.

There has been a good amount of chatter on the cruise fan pages about the virus and fears of contracting it while cruising to the Caribbean. 

Some but not all cruise lines warn about the disease.

Do you know someone who has been infected during a cruise to the Caribbean? Does anyone know effective medical treatment to combat the symptoms?  Please leave a comment below or join the discussion on our Facebook page.

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Comments (3) Read through and enter the discussion with the form at the end
Natalie S - June 15, 2014 5:53 PM

We have asked to cancel our July 2014 cruise via Royal Caribbean to Haiti, Jamaica, Grand Cayman & Cozumel due to chicungunya. My mom is over 65 and my daughter is 7. We're all prone to excess mosquito bites as is but have been to the caribbean multiple times. Unfortunately, we have been told we will be charged $1800+ for canceling and they would waive the fee only if we book an Alaska cruise, on different dates in July for $3000 more! Royal Caribbean claims they have never heard of Chicungunya and would let us know if they had concerns. What recourse do we have at this point?

M Gaskill - September 13, 2014 6:19 PM

was in St. John Set 3-9 started getting very ill on flight home debilitating joint pain, especially in wrists, lower back, nausea, fatigue, fever and chills. No where on the island did I see any postings to be careful of contracting chicungunya. Thank God I was already headed home and could get medical help. But there really is none. No treatment for this awful virus. Just take over counter pain meds.

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