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Margaret McClung

Age: 54

Occupation:homemaker

Number of Cruises: 1

Cruise Line: Holland America

Ship: Zuiderdam

Sailing Date: April 1st, 2006

Itinerary: Eastern Caribbean

On April 1, 2006 the ship left Ft. Lauderdale for a 7 day cruise. My cabin was 7007. The Zuiderdam did not seem as new or clean as I was expecting. On the fourth morning of the cruise, I awoke to discover two welts on my right forearm. On the following two mornings, I found two more welts on my left arm when I awoke. These welts festered with each passing day and were very irritated. The area surrounding was red and swollen. I complained to a woman at the front desk on the third day that I suspected my cabin had bed bugs, showed her the welts, and requested a new mattress and pillows. I did not watch to see if anyone actually removed the mattress and/or pillows although the front desk instructed the cabin steward to do so. I visited the ship dispensary and was seen by a male nurse who said they had never had bed bugs on that ship. His attitude was hostile. He called my individual welts a “rash” and also suggested I might have shingles. I have never had shingles. I thought a “rash” meant more than one welt in an area. I didn’t expect an honest diagnosis from the ship dispensary but I wanted the appearance of welts documented.

On the following morning, (the last day of the cruise) I had five more welts on four fingers of my left hand. These welts were extremely uncomfortable and got worse with each passing day. (larger, more swollen, red, irritating, pus) While driving home later that day, I stopped at a hospital emergency room in Port Charlotte, FL and was diagnosed with “acute soft tissue infection with possible allergic reaction” and given a 7-day prescription for an antibiotic.

Upon arriving home, I did not unload our luggage from the car into the house. Instead, I systematically washed in hot soapy water with bleach, or vacuumed, anything that might harbor bed bugs or came in contact with the beds on the ship. So far, I have had no new bites since leaving the ship.

Also, upon arriving home visited my regular doctor who ordered, in addition to the antibiotic, tetanus and steroid shots. (for inflamation) He said he has seen bed bug bites before, but never a reaction so severe as mine. I am sorry to think that this week there are more unsuspecting passengers sleeping on the beds in cabin 7007.

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