open access

Vol 61, No 1 (2010)
MARITIME MEDICINE Original articles
Published online: 2010-05-21
Submitted: 2013-02-18
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Public health significance of chickenpox on ships - conclusions drawn from a case series in the port of Hamburg

Clara Schlaich, Tobias Riemer, Maike Lamshöft, Jan-Gerd Hagelstein, Marcus Oldenburg
International Maritime Health 2010;61(1):28-31.

open access

Vol 61, No 1 (2010)
MARITIME MEDICINE Original articles
Published online: 2010-05-21
Submitted: 2013-02-18

Abstract

Background: Despite international notification requirements, the magnitude of disease transmission on board ships remains undetermined. This case series aims to exemplify that varicella aboard ships is a topic of interest for maritime medicine and of public health significance.
Material and methods: Systematic presentation of cases of chickenpox reported to the Hamburg Port Health Authority between November 2007 and April 2008. A systematic literature search on 'ships and chickenpox' was performed.
Results: Five crew cases of chickenpox were reported from two passenger ships and two cargo ships. The cases originated from Indonesia (2), the Philippines (1), and Sri Lanka (2). Three cases were notified by the shipmaster, one by a general practitioner, and one by the immigration service. Sources of infection were other crewmembers, passengers, and persons in the home countries.
Conclusions: This description of five varicella cases aboard ships points to the significance of the disease among seafarers. Many seafarers originate from tropical countries where seroconversion to varicella zoster virus generally occurs in late adolescents and adults. Thus, a substantial portion of the crew may be non-immune and have the potential to introduce the disease from their home country to the ship, or are at risk for infection on the ship. Port health authorities, shipmasters, and doctors need to be well informed about the relevance of chickenpox on ships and the recommended control measures. Travellers should be advised to report to the ship doctor with any signs of infectious disease.
Int Marit Health 2010; 61, 1: 28-31

Abstract

Background: Despite international notification requirements, the magnitude of disease transmission on board ships remains undetermined. This case series aims to exemplify that varicella aboard ships is a topic of interest for maritime medicine and of public health significance.
Material and methods: Systematic presentation of cases of chickenpox reported to the Hamburg Port Health Authority between November 2007 and April 2008. A systematic literature search on 'ships and chickenpox' was performed.
Results: Five crew cases of chickenpox were reported from two passenger ships and two cargo ships. The cases originated from Indonesia (2), the Philippines (1), and Sri Lanka (2). Three cases were notified by the shipmaster, one by a general practitioner, and one by the immigration service. Sources of infection were other crewmembers, passengers, and persons in the home countries.
Conclusions: This description of five varicella cases aboard ships points to the significance of the disease among seafarers. Many seafarers originate from tropical countries where seroconversion to varicella zoster virus generally occurs in late adolescents and adults. Thus, a substantial portion of the crew may be non-immune and have the potential to introduce the disease from their home country to the ship, or are at risk for infection on the ship. Port health authorities, shipmasters, and doctors need to be well informed about the relevance of chickenpox on ships and the recommended control measures. Travellers should be advised to report to the ship doctor with any signs of infectious disease.
Int Marit Health 2010; 61, 1: 28-31
Get Citation

Keywords

chickenpox; immunity; ships; sanitation; public health; international health problems

About this article
Title

Public health significance of chickenpox on ships - conclusions drawn from a case series in the port of Hamburg

Journal

International Maritime Health

Issue

Vol 61, No 1 (2010)

Pages

28-31

Published online

2010-05-21

Bibliographic record

International Maritime Health 2010;61(1):28-31.

Keywords

chickenpox
immunity
ships
sanitation
public health
international health problems

Authors

Clara Schlaich
Tobias Riemer
Maike Lamshöft
Jan-Gerd Hagelstein
Marcus Oldenburg

References (10)
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  7. Nardone A, de Ory F, Carton M, et al. The comparative sero-epidemiology of varicella zoster virus in 11 countries in the European region. Vaccine. 2007; 25(45): 7866–7872.
  8. Schlaich CC, Oldenburg M, Lamshöft MM. Estimating the risk of communicable diseases aboard cargo ships. J Travel Med. 2009; 16(6): 402–406.
  9. European Centres for Disease Control. Risk Assessment — 12 May 2008. Risk assessment for varicella virus transmission of affected cruise ship crew members to passengers. www.ecdc.eu (05.2009).
  10. World Health Organization. International Medical Guide for Ships 3rd edition 2007.

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