Open Access Open Badges Research article

Surveillance study of vector species on board passenger ships, Risk factors related to infestations

Varvara A Mouchtouri14, Rimma Anagnostopoulou2, Anna Samanidou-Voyadjoglou3, Kalliopi Theodoridou4, Chrissi Hatzoglou5, Jenny Kremastinou4 and Christos Hadjichristodoulou1*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Hygiene and Epidemiology, Medical School, University of Thessaly, Larissa, Greece

2 Department of Public Health, Prefecture of Piraeus, Piraeus, Greece

3 Department of Parasitology, Entomology & Tropical Diseases, National School of Public Health, Athens, Greece

4 Department of Public and Administrative Health, National School of Public Health, Athens, Greece

5 Department of Physiology, Medical School, University of Thessaly, Larissa, Greece

For all author emails, please log on.

BMC Public Health 2008, 8:100  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-8-100

Published: 27 March 2008



Passenger ships provide conditions suitable for the survival and growth of pest populations. Arthropods and rodents can gain access directly from the ships' open spaces, can be carried in shiploads, or can be found on humans or animals as ectoparasites. Vectors on board ships may contaminate stored foods, transmit illness on board, or, introduce diseases in new areas. Pest species, ship areas facilitating infestations, and different risk factors related to infestations were identified in 21 ferries.


486 traps for insects and rodents were placed in 21 ferries. Archives of Public Health Authorities were reviewed to identify complaints regarding the presence of pest species on board ferries from 1994 to 2004. A detail questionnaire was used to collect data on ship characteristics and pest control practices.


Eighteen ferries were infested with flies (85.7%), 11 with cockroaches (52.3%), three with bedbugs, and one with fleas. Other species had been found on board were ants, spiders, butterflies, beetles, and a lizard. A total of 431 Blattella germanica species were captured in 28 (9.96%) traps, and 84.2% of them were nymphs. One ship was highly infested. Cockroach infestation was negatively associated with ferries in which Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point system was applied to ensure food safety on board (Relative Risk, RR = 0.23, p = 0.03), and positively associated with ferries in which cockroaches were observed by crew (RR = 4.09, p = 0.007), no cockroach monitoring log was kept (RR = 5.00, p = 0.02), and pesticide sprays for domestic use were applied by crew (RR = 4.00, p = 0.05). Cockroach infested ships had higher age (p = 0.03). Neither rats nor mice were found on any ship, but three ferries had been infested with a rodent in the past.


Integrated pest control programs should include continuing monitoring for a variety of pest species in different ship locations; pest control measures should be more persistent in older ships. HACCP system aids in the prevention of cockroach infestations on board.