IMO, WHO Offer Ebola Guidelines


November 2014


Back to Issue

In late October, it seemed as if almost everyone was talking about Ebola and how individuals can contract or avoid the virus. At times, perhaps due to misinformation circulating in the press and online, it was enough to cause a panic, although much of the fear is baseless, according to the U.S. Center for Disease control (CDC).


For instance, at press time for the Seafarers LOG, there had only been three U.S. cases confirmed by the CDC.


To combat the deluge of false information, several organizations recently put together tips and guidelines for mariners and other individuals, including those travelling to West Africa. The following information, produced by the World Health Organization and shared by the International Maritime Organization, may assist in the education of on-board personnel:


“Ebola is introduced into the human population through close contact with the blood, secretions, organs or other bodily fluids of infected animals. In Africa, infection has been documented through the handling of infected chimpanzees, gorillas, fruit bats, monkeys, forest antelope and porcupines found ill or dead or in the rainforest.


5 Ways to Avoid Ebola Contact


Following are some helpful
tips from the CDC in the event
you are headed to West Africa,
specifically ports in Liberia, Sierra
Leone and Guinea:


- Practice careful hygiene.
For example, wash your hands
with soap and water or an alcohol- based hand sanitizer and
avoid contact with blood and
body fluids.
-Do not handle items that
may have come in contact with
an infected person’s blood or
body fluids (such as clothes,
bedding, needles, and medical
- Avoid funeral or burial
rituals that require handling the
body of someone who has died
from Ebola.
- Avoid contact with bats
and nonhuman primates or
blood, fluids, and raw meat
prepared from these animals.
- Avoid hospitals in West
Africa where Ebola patients
are being treated. The U.S. embassy or consulate is often able to provide advice on facilities.

“Ebola then spreads in the community through human-to human transmission, with infection resulting from direct contact (through broken skin or mucous membranes) with the blood, secretions, organs or other bodily fluids of infected people, and indirect contact with environments contaminated with such fluids. Burial ceremonies in which mourners have direct contact with the body of the deceased person can also play a role in the transmission of Ebola. Men who have recovered from the disease can still transmit the virus through their semen for up to seven weeks after recovery from illness.


“Ebola is not spread through the air. The incubation period, that is the time interval from infection with the virus to onset of symptoms, is two to 21 days.”


The U.S. Coast Guard also released some tips and data regarding Ebola on Aug. 7. In the press release, the agency outlined the following key points:


“Symptoms include fever, headache, joint and muscle aches, sore throat, and weakness, followed by diarrhea, vomiting, and stomach pain. In addition, skin rash, red eyes, and internal and external bleeding may be seen in some patients.


“Travelers could be infected if they come into contact with blood or body fluids from someone who is sick or has died from Ebola, sick wildlife, or meat from an infected animal. Health care providers caring for Ebola patients and family and friends in close contact with an ill person are at highest risk because they may come into contact with blood or body fluids.


“Monitor your health for 21 days if you were in an area with an Ebola outbreak, especially if you were in contact with blood or body fluids, items that have come in contact with blood or body fluids, animals or raw meat, or hospitals where Ebola patients are being treated.”


In addition, the International Chamber of Shipping, International Maritime Employers’ Council, and the International Transport Workers’ Federation released a joint statement on Aug. 4, which contained the following advice: 


- The master should ensure that the crew are aware of the risks, how the virus can be spread and how to reduce the risk.


- The ISPS requirements on ensuring that unauthorized personnel do not board the vessel should be strictly enforced throughout the duration of the vessel being in port.


- The master should give careful consideration to granting any shore leave whilst in impacted ports.


-The shipowner/operator should avoid making crew changes in the ports of an affected country.

-  After departure the crew should be aware of the symptoms and report any occurring symptoms immediately to the person in charge of medical care.


The most up-to-date information can be found at

Share |