Monday, 5 October 2015

Increased Burden of Infectious Disease in Offshore Oil & Gas Locations

The search for oil and gas has taken us to increasingly distant locations and further into the offshore environment. Year on year, some of the world’s most profitable businesses are placing more emphasis on adopting crisis emergency services in Nigeria, signalling they are recognising the problems of insufficient capacity and the drastic need to change.

Because of poor road infrastructure, long distances between tertiary centres and the low doctor to patient ratio, air ambulance transport for the oil and gas sector is vital part of any corporate infectious disease preventative plan.

The prevalence of infectious diseases is higher in Africa than other countries and can be directly and indirectly spread from person to another. Therefore specific strategies and precautions must be developed by companies to avoid workers being exposed.

Below is a list of some infectious diseases found in Nigeria and other parts of Africa:

Disease Vaccination/Prevention/Mitigation Transmission
Elephantitis The best way to prevent lymphatic filariasis is to avoid mosquito bites. The mosquitoes that carry the microscopic worms usually bite between the hours of dusk and dawn.If you live in an area with lymphatic filariasis
*Sleep in an air-conditioned room or sleep under a mosquito net especially,between dusk and dawn
*Wear long sleeves and trousers and use mosquito repellent on exposed,skin
Elephanitis also known as Lymphatic filariasis, considered globally as a neglected tropical disease, is a parasitic disease caused by microscopic, thread-like worms. Lymphatic filariasis is spread from person to person by mosquitoes.
Lassa Fever Primary transmission of the Lassa virus from its host to humans can be prevented by avoiding contact with Mastomys rodents, especially in the geographic regions where outbreaks occur. Putting food away in rodent-proof containers and keeping the home clean help to discourage rodents from entering homes. The Lassa virus is transmitted to humans via contact with food or household items contaminated with rodent urine or faeces.
Malaria Antimalarial drugs are recommended unless they are contraindicated.Antimalarial drugs are recommended to those who intend to an extended Stay in Nigeria, and those who study abroad.Chemoprophylaxis is recommended to be taken for the entire duration of long-term travel. It is transmitted through bites of an infected mosquito (female Anopheles).
Typhoid It is also recommended to most travellers, especially those who are staying with infected friends or relatives, visiting smaller cities, villages, or rural areas where risk factors increase through the direct contact with food or water; or prone to adventurous eating. It is also transmitted through the Fecal-oral route.

Specific recommendations have been put together by our remote site, oil and gas emergency response expert team to circumvent infectious diseases in a corporate working environment.

1. Prepare a policy document and make sure to include strategies that ensure safe working environment, prophylaxis and vaccination.
2. Education on total hygiene, particularly hand washing, healthy lifestyle. For example, wearing long sleeves clothing in the evening.
3. Designing appropriate signage in toilets, restrooms, kitchens and canteens.
4. Training programmes that help recognize symptoms of possible infectious disease.
5. Provision of facilities and resources with equipment, and preparation of an adequately equipped clinic at workplace which should be provided with PPE, first aid boxes and alcohol hand gel.
6. Specific infectious disease training for healthcare staff. Many infectious diseases such as Lassa
Fever are under-diagnosed. High index of suspicion is required to ensure that diagnosed is made early and appropriate management undertaken.

We are starting to see employers adopting specific strategies, taking precautions, recognising and addressing the need for additional assistance and onsite medical equipment for unique circumstantial changing first aid needs.  For more information on how the Flying Doctors can assist you with infectious disease planning, medical evacuation and oil and gas first aid training in Nigeria and Africa wide. 


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