Thursday, June 26, 2008

June 25 Flu Update

Usual excellent analysis by Revere on the benefits of screening for bird flu at airports by checking for fevers. Keyword: theatre.

The idea of airport fever screening to keep a pandemic out has a lot of psychological appeal. Unfortunately its benefits are also only psychological: pandemic preparedness theater. There's no magic bullet for warding off a pandemic. The best way to prepare for a pandemic or any other health threat is to have a robust and resilient public health infrastructure.

Apparently acting on tape delay, Mexico has banned Arkansas poultry.

Greenwich CT is testing its flu plan.

Chenango County, NY is also testing its flu plan.

A Toronto firm is partnering with Hunan province on the bird flu.

USAID is working in Sri Lanka on bird flu prevention.

Uganda got $17M from the World Bank to fight bird flu.


At 6:33 PM, Blogger Wulfgang said...


Revere’s article is definitely up to its usual professional standard. I’m in agreement with conclusions 110%, but not based on the technical spec’s or the performance results of commercial laser temperature reading devices (IR thermometer’s), but more based on the costly overhead required to support the approach.

The volume of international and domestic flights on a daily basis through worldwide airports is staggering – it’s in the tens of thousands: there simply are not enough resources and funds available to support taking passenger’s temperatures in an efficient manner – beside the fact that once a person is infected with a highly virulent and contagious H5N1 influenza and climbs aboard an aircraft – everyone within 15-20 feet of that sick individual will probably end up eventually infected also (if not the entire planeload of individuals). An increase in a person’s temperature may not occur until the illness progresses, well after the airplane has reached its destination and the passenger have disembarked and gone on their merry way.

The best way to delay a pandemic from spreading via a sick passenger on board an international flight ? Stop the flights from leaving an infected country as soon as it is apparent that there is a breakout. Contrary to popular belief, I believe there will be advance surveillance warning. Even this extreme measure is only a temporary stop-gap.

As far as “civil liberties” being violated by airport security officials involuntarily taking passenger temperature measurements? Give me a break, what’s next – whining about some sort of profiling because airport officials require driving license identification before they allow you to board an aircraft ?. By checking passenger’s temperatures, we’re only talking about a minor inconvenience and procedure that could delay a potentially deadly epidemic that could wipe out a significant portion of our world population. I’m not in favor of taking passenger temperatures, but not because of some toady civil libertarian viewpoint.

I have no problem with anybody taking my temperature at an airport (or even using X-ray’s that see completely through my clothing for security reasons – they might like what they see in my girth). My philosophy is simple: as long as they don’t attempt to charge me an extra surcharge fee for the temperature check and keep the nasty terrorist nut jobs off the flight, I don’t mind being a good citizen.



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