Coast Guard sector issues new protocols to prevent spread of Ebola

The following is the text of an area maritime security bulletin from U.S. Coast Guard Sector Long Island Sound:

Ebola virus disease (EVD) threat and the marine transportation system

Attn: All stakeholders of the maritime domain

Background: The current Ebola virus disease (EVD) outbreak is the largest in history with over 7,924 confirmed cases and 3,295 deaths worldwide as of Oct. 2, 2014. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirmed that on Sept. 30 the first case of EVD was diagnosed in the United States in a person who had traveled to Dallas, Texas, from West Africa. To date, there have been no recorded EVD cases associated with vessels operating in the U.S. maritime environment. Nonetheless, the EVD case in Dallas reminds us that we must remain always vigilant of the EVD threat to the nation. An Ebola crisis action team has been stood up at United States Coast Guard (USCG) Headquarters to conduct a comprehensive review of USCG policy and provide direction across all mission sets and includes active representation from all USCG stakeholders. The EVD situation and the possible introduction of the disease via the maritime vector remains extremely dynamic and additional guidance will be released as necessary. Guidance from the CDC continues to evolve and updates will be available at:

Most critical issue: Timely reporting of potential EVD incidents is paramount. Any EVD case in the maritime environment will be an incident of national interest. The USCG stresses timely communications with its 24-hour USCG Command Center. The USCG Sector Long Island Sound Command Center is staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week and can be reached at either: 1-800-774-8724 or (203) 468-4401. Your timely notifications to the USCG Sector Command Center enable the USCG to properly respond if necessary or to ensure proper coordination and assistance that other local, state or federal assets might be able to contribute in prosecuting a multi-faceted maritime domain case, such as a suspect Ebola case on a maritime vessel. Email contact with the Command Center can also be done via:

Additional guidance: Vessels arriving from the EVD impacted countries are at an elevated risk. Travel alert information can be found at: Vessel masters/representatives are required to report any illness or death among vessel passengers or crew with connection to a communicable disease. This report is required to the CDC within 15 days prior to expected arrival as per 42 CFR 71.21. Regional CDC quarantine station points of contact can be found at: This Long Island Sound COTP zone relies upon quarantine station officer in charge at JFK Airport New York 781-553-1685 / 86 / 87. Each quarantine station has responsibility for all ports, seaports, and international airports in an assigned region. The CDC method for maritime death and illness reporting uses fillable PDF forms required to be submitted and entered into Another CDC site includes the detailed reporting requirements

The USCG reviews all Notice of Arrivals to determine if a vessel has visited a country impacted by Ebola virus outbreak within its last five ports of call. In lieu of contacting the CDC, vessel masters or their designated representatives may contact USCG Sector Long Island Sound who will in turn contact the CDC.

Vessel agents or their designated representatives are requested to contact masters of vessels that have visited the above mentioned countries prior to the vessel entering port to inquire if there have been any reports of symptoms, death or illness that may be in connection to the Ebola virus.

Symptoms may appear anywhere from two to 21 days after exposure to Ebola virus though eight to 10 days is most common.  Symptoms of Ebola virus typically include:

• Fever,
• Headache
• Joint and muscle aches
• Weakness
• Diarrhea
• Vomiting
• Stomach pain
• Lack of appetite
• A rash
• Red eyes
• Hiccups
• Cough
• Sore throat
• Chest pain
• Difficulty breathing
• Difficulty swallowing, and/or
• Bleeding inside and outside of the body.

Some who become sick with Ebola HF are able to recover, while others do not. The reasons behind this are not yet fully understood.  However, it is known that patients who die usually have not developed a significant immune response to the virus at the time of death.

Additionally, USCG Sector Long Island Sound will be contacting vessels (either directly or through the vessel agent or representative) who indicate an Ebola virus affected country in their last five ports of call. The USCG will ask a series of questions:

The Captain of the Port Long Island Sound must know if any person aboard the vessel is experiencing any (see above list) symptoms of the Ebola virus. Is anyone presenting any of these symptoms?
When did the symptoms start?
Has medical treatment been administered?
Have they been around anyone else who has been ill?
What is the number of persons presenting symptoms?
Are there any persons planning on embarking or disembarking while in the U.S.?
Has any shore side medical attention been arranged for any ill persons?

Open and timely communications is vitally important to all awareness, prevention and protection efforts. We request your continued commitment and vigilance in keeping the 24-hour USCG Sector Long Island Sound Command Center advised of any suspicious activity or threats to our homeland security. Call 1-800-774-8724 or 203-468-4401, or marine radio VHF-FM Channel 16 or via email at

By Professional Mariner Staff