Mexico invests in thermal imagers to indentify swine flu
In the past week airport officials in Mexico have invested nearly a half a million dollars in purchasing thermal imagers (infrared cameras) from Fluke Corporation, a subsidiary of Danaher Corporation to help them screen people for H1N1 influenza A, or swine flu.
The portable infrared thermal imagers enable airport, transit, public health officials and others to quickly scan and measure the skin temperature of large numbers of people. Those who show temperatures higher than normal can then be isolated for further evaluation to help prevent the spread of disease. The imagers are in use at airports across Mexico, including Benito Juarez, in Mexico City. Dominion, a system integrator and the Fluke representative for Mexico, has worked with airport officials to provide training and consulting services to ensure high quality screening.
The outbreak of H1N1 flu in Mexico has devastated tourism. The San Francisco Chronicle reported Sunday that hotel occupancy rates in Mexico City are at record lows, between 5% and 7%.
Mexican authorities have responded decisively to control the outbreak, shutting down buildings and public events. International experts have praised Mexico's actions. Reuters reported Monday that "many experts believe Mexico's apparently quick and forceful actions could keep people safer in other countries."
Passenger screening with thermal imagers is one such action. The Chronicle said, "The Cancun airport is using infrared thermometers to detect fevers among arriving passengers."
All objects emit infrared (IR) energy, including the human body. IR noncontact thermal imagers use IR emissions to measure surface temperature, including the temperature of skin, which is displayed in color on the thermal imager's screen.
Individuals with fevers often have elevated skin temperature. When it detects that a person has a skin temperature higher than normal, the thermal imager can trigger an alarm or light. Those people can then be further tested to determine whether they actually have a fever and communicable illness.