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Flu Cases Force 3 Ships to Skip Guam Visit

There are a couple of things that are scary on a ship.  Fire is one of the biggest concerns.  For me, the thing that I worry about is contamination–food or illness.

There are 3 ships drifting off the coast of Guam right now because of illnesses.  (I’d hate to be the sick one on board keeping everyone from reaching land.) However, I’m glad the Navy has things like this under control.  The 3 ships are: USS Comstock, USS Boxer, and USS Lake Champlain.

Here’s a snippet of the article posted in Navy Times:

SAN DIEGO — Three Navy ships had to remain off the coast of Guam this week after reports of crew members were suspected of having swine flu.The flu-like cases forced Navy and Marine Corps commanders with the naval force to cancel their planned tiger cruise for families scheduled for the leg home from Hawaii.

USS Comstock

Reaching Guam, the ships — amphibious assault ship Boxer, dock landing ship Comstock and guided missile cruiser Lake Champlain — instead were resupplied off the coast of the Southwest Pacific island after some crew members had flu-like symptoms, Lt. Jodie Cornell, a Navy public affairs officer with Naval Forces-Marianas, told the Pacific Daily News.

Cmdr. Dora Lockwood, a Third Fleet spokeswoman in San Diego, said Friday that Navy officials had not confirmed any cases of the H1N1 virus, which causes the illness known as the swine flu.

Cornell told the newspaper that Navy officials decided to keep the ships away from port as a “precautionary measure” after service members aboard the ships, which include Marines with the Camp Pendleton, Calif.-based 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit, came down with flu-like symptoms. The affected service members were treated with Tamiflu and were quarantined aboard their ships.

Navy officials haven’t said whether any of the flu cases had yet been identified or confirmed as swine flu, which is caused by the H1N1 virus. That determination will take some time.

“We have no way to confirm H1N1 on the ship,” said Lt. Cate Wallace, a U.S. 7th Fleet spokeswoman in Yokosuka, Japan. “If a sailor exhibits flu-like symptoms, the same protocol is going to be followed,” including prescribed rest and isolation, she said. “Even if we can’t confirm it [as swine flu], we are going to err on the side of caution.”

The ships returned to sea and are expected to continue on the final leg of the planned deployments following operations in the 7th and 5th fleet regions that included operations in the Persian Gulf.

The flu cases Thursday prompted the top Marine commander aboard Boxer to cancel the unit’s planned tiger cruise that’s traditionally offered for relatives to ride the amphibious ships from Hawaii to San Diego. Lockwood said Navy commanders also agreed to skip the planned tiger cruise after determining “it’s in the best interest to cancel.”

In a letter to families published on the 13th MEU’s blog, Col. David W. Coffman, the 13th MEU commander, said that some Marines and sailors aboard Boxer and Comstock came down with “a mild influenza virus” and had to be quarantined. “The specific strain of flu in unknown, but it is contagious and generally characterized as ‘influenza-like illness,’ ” Coffman wrote. The affected Marines and sailors were being treated “and every precaution is being taken to keep unaffected personnel in continued good health.”

Coffman wrote that he decided to cancel the MEU’s Tiger Cruise as a precaution, noting, “the safety and health of our Marines and their families is our primary concern.”

By Gidget Fuentes – Staff writer
Posted : Friday Jul 10, 2009 18:16:41 EDT

References:
http://www.navytimes.com/news/2009/07/navy_swine_flu_071009w/

http://www.guampdn.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=200990708016

Edel Alonhttp://edelalon.com
Edel-Ryan Alon is a starving musician, failed artist, connoisseur of fine foods, aspiring entrepreneur, husband, father of two, geek by day, cook by night, and an all around great guy.

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