Multiple news sources are reporting that an U.S passenger died aboard Holland America Line's Veendam cruise ship that arrived in Rio de Janeiro yesterday.
HAL's Veendam is also the same cruise ship on which approximated 80 passengers fell ill, according to the state-run Brazilian news agency, Agencia Brasil. The agency refers to the cruise passengers as suffering from "gastro-enteritis." It is unknown whether there is a norovirus outbreak.
Forensic doctors are investigating the death of the American passenger. A CNN article reports that the cruise ship doctors told police that the woman was "elderly and suffered from diabetes and hypertension." (So much for the confidentiality of a patient's medical information.)
The Veendam left New York 36 days ago for a South America cruise. The Veendam had stopped earlier in the cruise at ports in Chile, Argentina and Uruguay before reaching Rio de Janeiro.
November 23, 2011 Update:
HAL claims that the death and the illness of some 80 passengers are unrelated. HAL issued a statement to Noticias de Cruceros that the passenger died due to a heart condition which had nothing to do with the gastrointestinal ilnesses. It's amazing how cruise line PR people suddenly become epidemiologists when someone dies on their cruise ship.
But a local newspaper in Brazil, Clarin, has the following account (translated):
An American, 61, died of a suspected food poisoning on a luxury cruise ship which arrived in Rio de Janeiro, from Chile, Argentina and Uruguay, in which 86 other passengers had symptoms such as cramps and vomiting, reported Brazilian authorities, in what is thought to be an outbreak of gastroenteritis due to consumption of bad food and poor hygiene.
The Holland America liner MS Veendam, carrying 1259 passengers, arrived in Rio de Janeiro and was quarantined to be subjected to investigations by the Brazilian Federal Police and the National Health Surveillance Agency (ANVISA) .
Tourism Secretary de Janeiro, Ronald Azaro, said that 79 people have contracted some sort of infection on the trip. When the November 6 cruise departed from Valparaiso, Chile, ANVISA received a warning symptoms of some passengers. He went to Argentina and Uruguay, having started the journey in New York, USA, with stops in Panama and Colombia, according to the Brazilian press.
The official said the Brazilian Federal Police took over the investigation into the death of the American, identified as Dorothy Philips, age 61, occurred on board as the ship was in the Maua Pier in the city of Rio.
Sources told the Brazilian media crew that the crew issued a red alert three days ago to take care with hygiene and some food. For now, the pool and the library of the cruise were closed.
According to the NASS report released last month, 27% of cruise ships passing through the Brazilian coast have health problems than those permitted by the rules in Brazil. Among the problems, according to an official report collection are inadequate food and lack of water conditions offered to passengers.
ANVISA recalled thatpassengers on the same boat, in March this year, experienced gastroenteritis cruising to Brazil. At least 43 passengers had symptoms in Belem, capital of Amazon state of Pará.
Photo credit: Michael Penn / Juneau Empire