MASTERS of ships destined for US ports are required to immediately report any ill person aboard to the nearest quarantine station where the ship docks, according to a US Maritime Administration (MARAD) advisory.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has been notified of 82 laboratory-confirmed cases of the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV), reported GAC Hot Port News. Of these 82 cases in the last 10 months, 45 have been fatal.
This viral respiratory illness originated in the Arabian Peninsula in 2012 and spread globally, said MARAD, adding that infected persons display severe pneumonia-like symptoms including acute respiratory infection, fever, cough and shortness of breath.
The MARAD advisory (No 2013-04) which states that crew members or passengers should be considered "suspicious" if they have acute respiratory infection, which may include fever greater than 38C or 100.4F, a cough or shortness of breath and history of travel from the Arabian Peninsula or neighbouring countries within 14 days.
Masters are also obliged to report those who develop severe acute lower respiratory illness and those who were close contact with symptomatic travellers who developed fever and acute respiratory illness within 14 days after travel from the Arabian Peninsula or neighbouring countries.
Close contact is defined as providing care for the ill traveller or having similar close physical contact or having lived with or visited when the traveller was was ill.
Suspected cases in crew members and passengers should be isolated in a private cabin until they are evaluated by a doctor to prevent transmission to others. Contact with other passengers and crew should be minimised.
If surgical masks are available, the sick crew members or passengers should wear one when not in isolation. Cabin mates and other close contacts of ill persons should be actively monitored for fever and respiratory symptoms for 14 days after the last known exposure.
Health care providers should follow the US Centre for Disease Control (CDC) infection control recommendations for the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) coronavirus, which can be found athttp://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/mers/downloads/isolation2007.pdf
Information regarding cdc quarantine stations can be found athttp://www.cdc.gov/quarantine/quarantinestations.html