Over the past two months, the USS Fort McHenry (LSD-43), a Whidbey Island-class dock landing ship, has been unable to enter any port due to an outbreak of parotitis, a viral infection similar to mumps, CNN cited the US Fifth Fleet as saying.
The warship was quarantined at sea after 25 sailors were diagnosed with the disease, with the most recent case reported on 9 March.
“None of the cases are life-threatening and all have either already made or are expected to make a full recovery,” the Fifth Fleet said in a statement, adding that since the initial case was detected on December 22, 24 of the 25 patients have returned to duty.
All 703 military personnel aboard the Fort McHenry have already received measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) booster vaccinations and military medical officials are currently assessing when the warship may be deemed medically safe to make a port call.
CNN quoted one of the officials as saying that “when there are major disease outbreaks, a decision may be taken to halt port visits until 30 days after the last reported illness due to varying incubation periods”.
However, the Fort McHenry reportedly made a port call in Romania in early January when it was in the Black Sea before traveling back to the Mediterranean.
The command of the ship, which carries elements of the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit on board, had to modify some of its scheduled training in order to deal with the outbreak’s impact, the Fifth Fleet added.