Ebola Outbreak Puts Stress on Shippers of Infectious Substances

The headlines are frightening – Ebola virus, one of the most deadly viruses known, has broken out in several African countries. Medical authorities are concerned that it could spread beyond that region, carried by travellers all over the world. Laboratories in North America and Europe are on alert for patients showing suspicious symptoms. This, in turn, means that samples and specimens must be transported for testing and verification. How can the medical community deal with transportation of such high-risk materials?

Shipping biological substances training »

Ebola virus is considered a “hemorrhagic fever,” which affects the blood system. Its virulence is astonishing, with a fatality rate of between 50 and 90 percent. Combine this with the ability to be transmitted through casual contact, and the lack of specific vaccines or treatment, and it’s understandable why Ebola is such a feared disease. Therefore, it is all the more essential that transporters make sure that they comply with all legal and safety requirements.

Ebola virus is one of the few pathogens that is always classed as a Category A infectious substance, even in its uncultured form. The shipping description will be:

  • Identification number – UN2814
  • Shipping name – Infectious substance, affecting humans
  • Class – 6.2 (Infectious substances)
  • Packing group – Class 6.2 is not assigned packing groups

Procedures for shipping samples suspected of containing the virus will depend upon the regulations involved – the Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR) for Continue Reading…

Shipping Infectious Substances – TDG

Transport Canada has posted a bulletin for shipping infectious substances (RDIMS#8210418).

In the overview, Transport Canada reviews what an infectious substance is: anything that is known or reasonably believed to cause disease in humans or animals. This substance can be in blood, body fluids, body parts, organs, tissue or cultures. The responsibility of the consignor is to: train, classify, package, mark/label, document, placard and have an ERAP in place, if necessary. In addition to the definition found in section 1.4 of TDG (Transportation of Dangerous Goods Regulations), the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) has regulations that apply to lab safety and the import of human pathogens into Canada. Please keep in mind that provincial governments may have additional regulations in place.

Classification of infectious substances is generally done by a medical professional. If you know that what you want to ship is an infectious substance, then it is class 6.2. In TDG, under Appendix 3 in Part 2 is a listing of regulated infectious substances. This list is not exhaustive. If what you want to ship is not on the list, but exhibits the characteristics of an infectious substance, then it is class 6.2.

The authorized shipping names in TDG are:

  • Category A
    • UN2814 Infectious substance, affecting humans,
    • UN2900 Infectious substance, affecting animals
  • Category B
    • UN3373 Biological substance, Category B

UN3291 Clinical waste, unspecified, n.o.s., (Bio)Medical waste, n.o.s., or Regulated medical waste, n.o.s. are Continue Reading…