Maritime Industry on Alert amid Zika Outbreak

Due to the outbreak of the Zika virus, the maritime industry is on standby for any symptoms of the virus that vessel crewmembers or passengers might be experiencing, according to US-based GAC.

As the World Health Organization designated the Zika virus as a global public health emergency, all vessel and facility representatives were urged to report any signs of hazardous conditions and illnesses within the last 15 days to the Center for Disease Control (CDC).

Cruise line companies have already started informing their passengers about the virus and, because of a possible link between birth defects and Zika infection during pregnancy, the lines are allowing pregnant women to change itineraries or cancel their trips.

A Carnival Cruise Lines spokesperson told ABC News that their employees are being provided with a choice to avoid working in Zika-affected areas.

The virus has spread throughout America since it was first detected in May 2015 in Brazil.

Zika is a virus that is spread by mosquitoes, and in rare cases it may be spread via blood transfusions, sexual contact, and from mother to child in the womb.

Most people who get Zika will not have any symptoms, however, those who do get symptoms could experience a fever, rash, joint pain, conjunctivitis, and muscle pain or a headache.

It is uncommon for people infected with the Zika virus to require hospitalization, and deaths are rare.

GAC called on the seafarers to take preventive measures to avoid mosquito bites including avoiding/limiting outdoor activities one hour before and after dusk and dawn, when mosquitoes are most active; covering exposed skin; and using insect repellents.

World Maritime News Staff

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