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NCL America Employee Diagnosed With TB

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Norwegian Cruise Lines America confirmed Wednesday that an employee on one of its Hawaii cruise ships was diagnosed with tuberculosis last month.

KITV has learned that the state health department is asking NCL to increase its TB testing for employees.

NCL America operates three cruise ships that travel among the Hawaiian Islands.

The cruise line said it received confirmation from the state health department that one of its "former crew members" on the Pride of America was diagnosed with tuberculosis.

NCL said the crew member left the ship on May 22.

It's unclear whether the cruise employee who got TB on the "Pride of America" worked directly with passengers or whether he worked in the engineering areas of the ship, away from customers, officials said.

In a statement, NCL said, "Anyone who was designated as a potential contact is being appropriately screened, and there is no imminent risk to the public."

The cruise line said it continues to "work closely with the state and federal health officials to ensure the health and safety of all its guests and crew members."

A state health department spokeswoman said state disease experts want NCL to re-evaluate its screening process.

The cruise line already tests some of its employees for TB when they're hired, but state health officials said they want them to be re-tested more frequently than they are now. An NCL spokeswoman did not immediately comment on which of its cruise line employees it tests for TB, but state officials have said repeat testing is important because the disease can take months and years before showing symptoms.

A state health department spokeswoman said none of the three NCL employees diagnosed with tuberculosis had the extremely drug-resistant strain of TB that infected a lawyer in Georgia a few months ago, making national headlines.

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TB is on the rise in America. I don't know about other countries. I work in the health field and we see are seeing more and more reactors every week. Being a reactor doesn't mean you have TB. Just that you've been exposed to someone who has. But the high number of reactors has got to mean that more people actually have the disease. I think that having a TB skin test should be done annually. Where I work, it is. But I think the general population should annually test also. I would hate to see TB become a major problem again here in the US.

Thanks for sharing this article Lisa...

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  • 3 weeks later...

HONOLULU -- 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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