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Researchers develop tool to assist areas of infectious disease outbreaks
Date:4/10/2013

cies, including the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control and the World Health Organization to evaluate emerging infectious disease threats, including those during global mass gatherings such as the Olympics or the annual Hajj pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia.

Dr. Khan used his experience analyzing air traffic patterns to review the flights of the nearly 600,000 people who flew out of Mexico in May 2009, the start of the H1N1 pandemic. He found that exit screening would have caused the least disruption to international air traffic.

In fact, all air travelers at risk of H1N1 infection could have been assessed as they left one of Mexico's 36 international airports. Exit screening at just six airports in Mexico coupled with entry screening at two airports in Asia (Shanghai and Tokyo) would have allowed for screening of about 90 per cent of the at-risk travelers worldwide.

Assessing those same passengers when they landed at their destinations on direct flights out of Mexico would have been much more complicated and expensive because it would have required screening at 82 international airports in 26 countries.

"One never waits for a fire to spread before putting it out," said Dr. Khan. "It only makes sense to intervene as early as possible right at the source. The same principle applies to infectious disease outbreaks. To prevent or slow the spread of infectious disease, the most efficient strategy is to control an outbreak at it source, and if this cannot be achieved, to consider screening travelers as they depart the affected area for destinations around the globe."

The researchers came up with a simple tool any city could use to make a timely, reliable decision about traveler screening during a future outbreak, regardless of where or when the outbreak might occur. Decisions from the tool are based on just three factors: (i) whether effective exit screening at the sourc
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Contact: Leslie Shepherd
shepherdl@smh.ca
416-864-6094
St. Michael's Hospital
Source:Eurekalert

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