Ships can transport infected humans and other vectors, such as mosquitoes and rats, between ports and can therefore act as a means of national and international dissemination of disease and disease agents. In order to protect passengers, crew and the public, the focus should be on proactive and preventive measures. For example:
Pest control on vessels is of major importance as pests such as rodents, cockroaches and mosquitoes are linked to the spread of international disease. The Port Health Office may request “Ship Sanitation Certificates (SSCs)” to declare ships free from disease and the vectors of disease according to the Prevention and Control of Disease Ordinance and the International Health Regulations 2005 (“IHR (2005)”).
All ships on international voyages were required to renew this certificate every six months, and this renewal required all areas of the ship to be inspected. The IHR (2005) SSCs are of particular importance for the prevention and control of public health risks on board ships on international voyages.
Cockroaches can spread disease via their bodies and droppings. Control measures may include trapping and the use of insecticide. As with rats the removal of habitat and food sources may also be required in order to treat an infestation.
Rats and mice can transmit many diseases to humans such as Bubonic Plague Hantavirus and Weil’s disease. They are also able to transmit certain types of food poisoning such as Salmonella. Control measures may include trapping, poisoning or fumigation of the ship.
Mosquitoes act as vectors of pathogens and parasites that cause a number of serious diseases, such as: Dengue Fever, Yellow Fever and Malaria. Control measures may include trapping and the use of insecticide.