The Korea Herald


1 in 8 commercial flights exposed to pathogens: KDCA

By Choi Jeong-yoon

Published : Nov. 27, 2023 - 15:08

    • Link copied

(123rf) (123rf)

One in 8 commercial flights entering South Korea was found to be contaminated with pathogens that cause intestinal infectious diseases, the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) said Monday.

The pathogens were detected through hygiene inspections on 58 out of 493 direct international flights from July 31 to Nov. 14 this year, according to the agency.

Among the pathogens detected was E. coli, which causes diarrhea. Transmitted by food or water contaminated with animal or human feces, it can lead to food poisoning which can result in fever, nausea, emesis and diarrhea when contracted.

The highest detection rate was at Incheon Airport, where 49 out of 222 flights tested positive for pathogen contamination.

The agency has requested airlines operating aircraft with pathogens to disinfect them, according to the statement.

The inspection comes after a three-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 outbreak, during which fewer flights were in operation.

Amid an ongoing post-pandemic surge in the number of flights, the government has shifted its focus to symptomatic individuals of infectious diseases. It resumed checking aircraft for pathogen contamination on July 31 on a pilot basis for selected flights.

In light of recent complaints of bedbug bites on airplanes in the US and the UK, the KDCA said it plans to expand inspections on transportation and cargo.

The disease control agency also pledged to minimize infectious disease control blind spots and comply with revised International Civil Aviation Organization standards to improve sanitation on aircraft. The results will be published periodically to raise the level of aircraft hygiene, it said.