Just a month after a lady passenger of the ship “Liberty of the Seas” passed away, Tore Myhra, 57 years old and a resident of Belton, near Great Yarmouth, died from a similar disease as the woman after staying on the same deck.
Authorities, however, were uncertain whether Myhra contracted the disease while on board the ship. Investigators who were working on the case are not discounting the possibility that Myhra contracted Legionnaires’ disease after staying at Epic Hotel, together with wife Sue and their daughter Layna, prior to boarding the Royal Caribbean cruise lines ship which set sail on October 24, 2009.
Concurrent to Myhra’s case is the reported outbreak of the disease at the Miami-based hotel which was carried out by authorities in the United States. Legionnaires’ disease is caused by the Legionella bacteria which can cause pneumonia. The disease can be contracted by breathing in droplets of water tainted by the bacteria.
During the inquest of Myhra’s case, it was revealed that he started getting sick on October 29, after which he was put under care at the ship’s hospital. As Myhra and his family disembarked the ship after the end of the cruise, he was immediately brought to the Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami, where he was initially diagnosed with pneumonia and, after further testing, he was subsequently diagnosed with legionella.
In the same inquest, it was also revealed that another Briton named Jean Young succumbed to a similar strain of legionella, just a month before Myhra’s case. Young stayed on the same sixth deck of the “Liberty of the Seas.” After being alerted of this incident, the ship utilised a legionella test kit and performed the necessary remedial measures.
In a statement given by independent expert Dr. Nicholas Phin, he divulged that the two deaths stem from the exposure to the same strain of legionella. However, he added that he cannot say conclusively that the two victims contracted the disease either on board the sea vessel or while they were still on shore. Testing conducted on the “Liberty of the Seas” using a legionella test kit yielded negative results.
Both cases highlight the need for legionella risk assessments, particularly on board cruise ships which have complex water systems used for potable water, seawater, sewage and fuel. With modern cruise ships now fitted with swimming pools, spas and showers, they are at a higher risk of diseases like legionella and hence require regular testing and disinfection.