The International Transport Workers’ Federation has issued an information factsheet in a bid to help seafarers around the world to protect themselves from the Zika virus.
The virus, caused by the bite of an infected Aedes mosquito, is currently circulating in Africa, the Americas, Asia and the Pacific. There have also been reported cases of the virus being spread through blood transfusion and sexual contact.
The Zika virus disease usually causes a mild fever, skin rash and conjunctivitis for a period of two to seven days but it is particularly dangerous for women who are pregnant or planning to become pregnant, and has been linked to genetic birth defects. There is no specific treatment or vaccine currently available.
ITF Maritime Coordinator Jacqueline Smith said: “Our business is helping to protect the health and safety of seafarers. They are a particularly vulnerable group to this type of disease because they are in transit a lot of the time and there are a number of major trade routes passing through areas impacted by the Zika virus.
“The reality for seafarers is that if they’re going to be able to take any precautions against contracting the virus – things like sleeping under mosquito nets, using repellent, wearing light covering clothing, covering water containers – they need to prepare in advance, before they are at sea for a number or weeks or even months.”