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Locals got ill during cruise

7 had symptoms of stomach virus

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At least seven passengers from the Augusta area were among a group of people who were sickened with the norovirus during a recent cruise that departed from Charleston, S.C.

The virus, which causes stomach flu, broke out on the Celebrity Mercury on Feb. 21, and more than 400 of about 2,600 passengers developed symptoms.

The ship was in the Caribbean near St. Kitts in the Leeward Islands at the time of the outbreak.

Louis Meitin, 80, of Augusta, was among the passengers who became sick.

"I had dinner about 6 p.m. and went to the show and halfway through the show I started feeling bad," he said Monday.

Meitin and his wife were placed in isolation for two days and were unable to disembark to tour Tortola in the British Virgin Islands. Celebrity Cruise compensated them for the trouble.

Kathy Mills, the manager of travel agency PR Augusta Llc., said 46 people from the Augusta area had booked the trip through the company.

Mills was also on board but did not become sick.

She said the group's trip is referred to as the "annual winter cruise" and consists of a group of friends who take a trip each year.

The ship returned to port early Friday.

Mills and Meitin said the incident wouldn't affect further trips with the company.

"They went overboard to be wonderful to everybody," Mills said. "We had a wonderful time."

Meitin has already booked a trip for March 2011 on the same ship.

He said he's feeling better for the most part.

"I'm still not quite up to strength, but I guess when you are 80 it takes a little longer," he said.

Celebrity Cruise spokeswoman Cynthia Martinez said the ship takes extra precaution when widespread illness becomes a possibility.

"When the number of ill guests on a sailing increases, the ship begins enhanced sanitizing procedures," she said in an e-mail. "On all cruises, we encourage guests to wash their hands often and use the hand-sanitizing gel located throughout the ship."

She added that the exact source of the illness still had not been pinpointed.

Comments (2) Add comment
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soldout 03/02/10 - 12:27 am
hand-sanitizing kills the

hand-sanitizing kills the friendly germs that protect the body from super bugs; big mistake to use them.

Lonewuf 03/02/10 - 02:41 pm
Yes soldout, and not only

Yes soldout, and not only that.... the super bugs become immune....

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