Point-of-Care Syndrome-Based, Rapid Diagnosis of Infections on Commercial Ships
Suspicion of contagious disease on commercial ships tends to be poorly managed, as there is little capacity to confirm a case on board except for malaria. Here we implemented a point-of-care (POC) laboratory on one container ship and one cruise ship for the rapid syndrome-based diagnosis of infectious diseases on board.
In 2012 we implemented a POC laboratory on board a freight ship and on board a cruise ship. The POC laboratory ran a total of six different color-coded, syndrome-based kits incorporating 10 different commercially available immunochromatographic tests. The POC tests were taught within 1-hour as part of training to staff without any previous knowledge in microbiology.
Compared with terrestrial POCs, specific constraints included the necessity to secure POC devices into the motile ship, to use robust devices, to overcome difficulties in communicating with the core laboratory, and to overcome limited intimacy of patients. However, a total of 36 POC tests were easily performed and yielded contributive negative results.
This first experiment indicates that it is possible to run POC laboratories by nonexpert staff after providing rapid teaching course on board commercial ships. Generalization of on-board POC laboratories is expected to help in improving the medical management of staff and passengers.