Friday, November 25, 2011

Two Passsengers Die on Holland America Cruise-Ship

Brazilian police are investigating the death of a US citizen who died aboard a cruise-ship that docked in Rio de Janeiro on Tuesday (November 22). According to the crew of the MS Veeddam, which belongs to the Holland American Line, Dorothy Missen Philips, 61, died aboard the vessel that was on a 16-day tour around South America. The ship carried 1,258 passengers and 560 crew members.

After the ship was safely moored in Rio, Brazilian police and health specialists inspected the ship and took the vessel's captain and the head of its medical team to testify at federal police headquarters.

Subsequently, the country's national health surveillance agency (ANVISA) said in a statement that 86 people: 79 passengers and seven crew members, had been reported with gastroenteritis since the cruise sailed off from Valparaiso in the beginning of the month. The vessel made ports-of-call in Argentina and Uruguay before arriving in Rio.

COMMENT: ANVISA added that the outbreak seemed to have been brought under control considering that only one passenger presented gastroenteritis symptoms upon the arrival in Rio, the ship's final destination. Authorities were investigating if the woman's death was related to the illness outbreak. Philips' body was taken to Rio's Institute of Forensic Medicine to undergo an autopsy.

Holland America also said in the statement another guest had died of heart problems during the voyage.

The company added that the ship was sanitized on Tuesday afternoon, before hundreds of guests boarded for a 16-day cruise that set sail for Chile later that day.

As I have suggested in the past, it is essential that anyone traveling abroad for any length of time should undergo a thorough medical examination before initiating travel, so as to avoid encountering a health crisis while abroad.

Additionally, all foreign travelers should ensure that they have subscribed to international medical treatment and evacuation coverage, as their home-based medical coverage rarely is honored in foreign countries. If our readers need a list of such underwriters, please email me ( for a list.

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