Earth Watch Report  –  Biological Hazards

File:MERS coronavirus.jpg

Transmission electron micrograph of Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) coronavirus.

National Institutes of Health (NIH)

Wikimedia .org


Biological Hazard United Kingdom Capital City, London [Heathrow Airport] Damage level Details




Biological Hazard in United Kingdom on Tuesday, 13 May, 2014 at 12:10 (12:10 PM) UTC.

A second passenger who travelled through Heathrow Airport been diagnosed with a potentially fatal Sars-style virus. The latest case of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, MERS-CoV, involves a person flying from Jeddah to America via London. The passenger, who travelled on Saudi Airlines flight 113 on Thursday, May 1, tested positive for the virus after arriving in the US. It follows a similar case involving a passenger who travelled from Riyadh to Chicago and transferred in London on Thursday, April 24. Checks on other passengers on the flight have proved negative, according to Public Health England. Tourists travelling to the Middle East, especially those with chronic medical conditions, are being urged to avoid contact with camels as experts believe they may help to transmit the virus. PHE say the incubation period is around 14 days, but stress the risk of transmission is extremely low. The new type of coronavirus was first identified in a Middle Eastern patient in 2012. According to World Health Organisation figures, 111 people have tested positive in the Jeddah area of Saudi Arabia in the last two years – resulting in 31 deaths. Worldwide the number of cases is thought to be 401, with 93 fatalities. Three people have died in the UK as a result of the infection. PHE said the last case to be detected was in February 2013. Other cases have also been reported in France, Germany, Italy and Greece, across the Middle East in Egypt, Jordan, Qatar, Kuwait and Oman and in other countries such as Malaysia, Philippines and Tunisia. Professor Nick Phin, head of respiratory diseases for Public Health England, said: “As with the incident earlier this month, the risk is very low. “We will be following up with any UK passengers who were sitting in the vicinity of the passenger with MERS-CoV, as a precautionary measure. “Any UK-based travellers who become unwell with a fever, cough or shortness of breath within 14 days of being in the Middle East, should make sure they call their doctor and tell them where they have travelled. “Although the source of MERS-CoV is unknown, there is growing evidence of the possible role of camels in transmitting it to humans. “We advise travellers, particularly those with underlying or chronic medical conditions, to avoid contact with camels in the Middle East. “All travellers should practise good hand and respiratory hygiene to reduce the risk of respiratory illness.”
Biohazard name: MERS-COv (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS))
Biohazard level: 4/4 Hazardous
Biohazard desc.: Viruses and bacteria that cause severe to fatal disease in humans, and for which vaccines or other treatments are not available, such as Bolivian and Argentine hemorrhagic fevers, H5N1(bird flu), Dengue hemorrhagic fever, Marburg virus, Ebola virus, hantaviruses, Lassa fever, Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever, and other hemorrhagic or unidentified diseases. When dealing with biological hazards at this level the use of a Hazmat suit and a self-contained oxygen supply is mandatory. The entrance and exit of a Level Four biolab will contain multiple showers, a vacuum room, an ultraviolet light room, autonomous detection system, and other safety precautions designed to destroy all traces of the biohazard. Multiple airlocks are employed and are electronically secured to prevent both doors opening at the same time. All air and water service going to and coming from a Biosafety Level 4 (P4) lab will undergo similar decontamination procedures to eliminate the possibility of an accidental release.
Status: confirmed



Second MERS case detected in passenger flying through London

The deadly MERS virus has been diagnosed in two air passengers passed through London in transit in a matter of weeks

A worker wears a mask next to camels in Saudi Arabia.

A worker wears a mask next to camels in Saudi Arabia. There is growing evidence of the possible role of camels in transmitting MERS-CoV to humans Photo: AFP/GETTY

A second case of the deadly MERS virus has been diagnosed on a flight through London.

The passenger was flying from Jeddah to the USA and transiting through Heathrow exactly one week after a person flying from Riyadh to Chicago who stopped at the London airport was found to have the new deadly respiratory virus that has spread through the Middle East.

The risk to anyone on the Saudi Airlines flight 113 on May 1 is thought to be low, but Public Health England warn anyone who has have since become unwell or experienced respiratory symptoms, such as shortness of breath, to seek medical advice.

No other passenger on the April 24 British Airways flight 262 from Riyadh to London was found to have contracted Middle East Respiratory Syndrome.

Experts say the risk to fellow travellers is low as although the mortality rate from the disease is high, it is not easily spread between humans.


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