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

e of the outbreak is taking place, (ii) whether a city receives direct flights from the source of the outbreak, and (iii) the incubation period of the disease.

"If countries adopt this tool, it would help distinguish settings where traveler screening is reasonable from those where screening is clearly not warranted," Dr. Khan said. "Taking a highly targeted approach to screening would efficiently produce public health returns while minimizing disruption to international travel, and consequently the world's economy."

Dr. Khan noted that screening people as they leave the site of an outbreak does place an additional burden on that country, especially if it's a resource-poor country, and that it would be in other countries' interest to provide resources to assist.

"While entry screening may offer the perception of being more closely aligned with the self-interests of a country, the reality is that it's far more resource intensive and inefficient than exit screening in the source country,' Dr. Khan said. "Since entry-screening consumes valuable health and human resources that could be used more effectively elsewhere, it can actually be counterproductive from both a public health and an economic perspective."

The reason entry screening is inefficient is that many travelers leaving the source of an outbreak may mingle with other travelers who have no connection to the outbreak. In the case of the H1N1 pandemic, screening all international travelers as they arrived in airports around the world would have been exceedingly inefficient: 116 travelers would have had to been screened for every traveler who may have been exposed to H1N1, or 67.3 million travelers at 1,111 international airports.

Dr. Khan said that 90 per cent of international trips by air last less than 12 hours, meaning it's unlikely that travelers incubating an infection will board a plane with no symptoms and develop the illness during the trip. The average incubatio
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Contact: Leslie Shepherd
shepherdl@smh.ca
416-864-6094
St. Michael's Hospital
Source:Eurekalert

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