The CDC in Atlanta is a US Government agency tasked with helping protect citizens from hazardous places. It’s a darn good idea to query their website for updates on the places you are sailing to. Who would think that a nice Caribbean trip could be at risk?
The CDC has issued a travel advisory for the Caribbean island of St. Martin, urging visitors to take precautions against a rare mosquito-borne virus. I’ve been there and it’s a cute little island – half French and half Dutch. Turns out that ten cases of chikungunya, an illness that causes high fever and severe joint pain, have been reported on the French side of the island. That side is the similar sounding St Maarten.
It’s the first time that a local transmission of the virus has been reported in the Americas, and while the illness is not deadly or contagious, there is no vaccine. No cruise lines have changed their plans to dock in St. Maarten, although most are watching the situation. Many stop there. I once rented a scooter for $40 and zipped around the island. (Warning – the French side is clothing optional.) Holland America has stated: “At the moment, we include details for guests to bring proper clothing and consider certain insect repellants.
The CDC recommends that travelers to St. Martin/Maarten take steps to prevent mosquito bites, by wearing long-sleeved shirts and pants, as well as insect repellant with high levels of protection.
At the website, you can pull down your destination, click on the “Cruise ship” button and check out any alerts for where you are going. Often you will see a lot of things we ALL should have before traveling: measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine, diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis vaccine, varicella (chickenpox) vaccine, polio vaccine, and your yearly flu shot.