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Monkeypox declared a global public health emergency

All six WHO regions have now reported cases of monkeypox, and we encourage ship operators to follow the evolution of the outbreak and keep seafarers informed about the risks of infection.

On July 2022, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the escalating global monkeypox outbreak a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC). This is the highest level of alert that WHO can issue and underlines the organization’s concerns about the rapid spread of the disease.
At the time of writing the monkeypox disease has not been reported to cause any particular challenges for Gard’s Members and clients. However, cases of monkeypox have now been reported from all six WHO Regions, and the situation is evolving rapidly. We therefore encourage ship operators to stay alert to the situation and follow the evolution of the outbreak and the areas affected by monkeypox at relevant times.

Man and his skin affected by a blistering rash due to monkeypox on light background

It is also critical to keep ship personnel informed about monkeypox through risk communication, e.g., by displaying posters, videos, and message boards. Promotion of personal protective measures and risk-reducing behavioris important, particularly before shoreside visits. Key messages should include information about:

• Symptoms: Monkeypox presents with fever, headache, muscle aches, exhaustion and an extensive characteristic rash that looks like pimples or blisters. The febrile stage is followed by the skin eruption stage, lasting for 2 to 4 weeks. Lesions evolve from macules (lesions with a flat base) to papules (raised firm painful lesions) to vesicles (filled with clear fluid) to pustules (filled with pus), followed by scabs or crusts.
• Transmission: Monkeypox spreads in different ways. The virus can spread from person-to-person through:
o direct contact with the infectious rash, scabs, or body fluids,
o respiratory secretions during prolonged, face-to-face contact, or during intimate physical contact, such as kissingor sex, and
o touching items (such as clothing, towels or bed linens) that previously touched the infectious rash or body fluids.

It is also possible for people to get monkeypox from infected animals, either by being scratched or bitten by the animal or by preparing or eating meat or using products from an infected animal.
• Prevention: Personal hygiene is paramount. Self-protection steps include avoiding skin-to-skin or face-to-face contact with anyone with symptoms, practicing safer sex, cleaning hands with water and soap or alcohol-based hand rub, and respiratory etiquette. In Central and West Africa, contact with animals that can spread monkeypox virus, usually rodents and primates, must be avoided.
• Reporting: Any rash-like illness should be immediately reported to a medic, including information about all recent travel, sexual history, and smallpox immunization history. The ill person should remain isolated.
Source: Gard, https://www.gard.no/web/articles?documentId=34010212

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