Published: 2 June 2014

Key advice

As Members will be aware, there have been recent reports of renewed outbreaks of Poliomyelitis (polio), a disease that had been targeted by the World Health Organisation (WHO) for eradication.

Members are well advised to ensure crew are vaccinated against the disease before calling at high risk areas and to minimise the risk of exposure in high risk areas ashore.

Some countries may impose fines and/or quarantine restrictions in case crew do not have valid immunisation records with them.

The present situation

Despite the efforts of the WHO, polio continues to affect areas in Nigeria, Pakistan and Afghanistan. It has also recently re-emerged in Syria after having been almost eradicated, and this is likely to be a result of the present and on-going conflict experienced in Syria.

Polio is a highly infectious, incurable disease which often affects young children, but can also be contracted by adults. Most famously the 32nd President of the United States of America, Franklin D. Roosevelt, contracted the virus at age 39.

Even those not experiencing significant symptoms can be carriers that infect others.

It can only be prevented by immunisation.

The transmission of the virus is effected by contamination of food and water, thereafter it can be passed to others by way of human waste which may again contaminate food and water.

Symptoms include fever, fatigue, headaches, vomiting, stiffness of the neck, and pain in the limbs. A consequence of polio can be permanent paralysis and death.

Loss prevention

As the disease can be contracted and carried / spread by adults, it is recommended to ensure that crew are duly vaccinated and to ensure they have the necessary immunisation records on board the vessel.

Should crew go ashore and beyond port limits in places where outbreaks have been reported or plan to consume local food and water, then caution should be exercised to ensure that through the exercise of personal hygiene, water safety and common sense, the risk of exposure to the virus is minimised.

The Association is grateful to correspondents Messrs. Indemnis Marine (Pvt) Ltd., Karachi, Pakistan as well as Messrs. West Africa Marine P&I, Lagos, Nigeria, for contributing to this update. Reference is also made to materials published by the World Health Organisation (WHO).