Association of Port Health Authorities

Infectious Disease

Local Authorities and Port Health Authorities are responsible for the enforcement of infectious disease controls. Infectious diseases can be spread by the crew of aircraft and ships and by passengers and other visitors. Infectious diseases can spread from person to person and if not identified and controlled quickly, could infect large numbers of people. Infectious diseases can also be transmitted in water and food as well as in the air and via contaminated materials, therefore it is important to investigate suspect and confirmed cases of infectious disease to identify the source.

The principal legislation that involves ships and aircraft arriving from outside the UK are the Public Health (Ships) Regulations 1979 and the Public Health (Aircraft) Regulations 1979. Both these sets of Regulations reflect the provisions of the International Health Regulations.

Other infectious disease control work relates to the investigation of suspected and confirmed cases of food poisoning resulting from the consumption of food contaminated with bacteria such as Salmonella, E. coli and Staphylococcus aureus, or food contaminated by banned food additives and toxic chemicals. Here the controls are related to food premises, including ships and aircraft.

Masters of ships and Captains of aircraft must notify the Port Health Authority of any suspected infectious disease or death on board other than by an accident. The presence of animals or captive birds and any illness or death in those animals or birds, must also be reported.

Doctors are on call to visit vessels and aircraft to enable a diagnosis to be made of the illness and to recommend further action to prevent the spread of the disease.

More Information
International Health Regulations
Disease suspected on board ship
Disinsection of Aircrafts
Code of Practice for Infectious Diseases on Aircraft (1995)

External Links information on all infectious disease issues
HPA Guidance for the Management of Norovirus Infection in Cruise Ships

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