21 NCL Workers Test Positive For TB

Published On: Jul 18 2007 08:56:01 PM HST   Updated On: Jul 18 2007 09:34:36 PM HST

The State Health Department on Wednesday confirmed that 21 employees of the Hawaii-based Norwegian Cruise Line ship Pride of America tested positive for tuberculosis last month.

However, health officials said those people had a latent form of TB that was not contagious.

Last month, KITV first reported that an employee on NCL's Pride of America cruise ship had been diagnosed with tuberculosis. NCL said the crewmember left the ship on May 22.

The Department of Health's director said that follow-up tests showed 21 other employees on that same ship had TB.

"The mere presence of a positive skin test does not mean you are infectious, and in the case of the 21 crew members who were tested positive, they were not infectious to other people," state Health Director Dr. Chiyome Fukino said.

As a precaution, the health department tested 200 NCL employees who came in contact with the one coworker with active TB. Fukino said they all tested negative a month ago.

The health department said it plans to retest 200 Pride of America cruise ship employees on Monday.

"If you want to see whether or not they've been exposed, potentially exposed, you will test them again to see if their skin becomes positive," Fukino said.

Carroll Cox of the watchdog group EnviroWatch first tipped KITV to the problems and said the health department is covering up the TB outbreak to protect the cruise industry.

"They're placing commercial industry, tourism over the welfare and safe being of the public," Cox said.

"We are aggressively investigating this and we are not covering up anything, but we are not going to unduly worry the public," Fukino said.

An NCL spokeswoman did not return calls from KITV.


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