Some fever scanners work, U.S. study finds

* Flir, Optotherm systems work best

* Other systems found not as accurate

WASHINGTON, Oct 13 (BestGrowthStock) – Two commercially available
scanners meant for use in airports and other public facilities
can reliably detect people with fevers, making them useful
during disease outbreaks, U.S. researchers reported on
Wednesday.

The scanners, which work at a distance of 3 to 6 feet (1 to
2 metres), do a better job of detecting fevers than when people
are simply asked if they feel feverish, An Nguyen of the U.S.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and colleagues
found.

“Our evaluation of three infrared thermal detection systems
in emergency department settings found that the FLIR and
OptoTherm reliably identified elevated body temperatures,” they
wrote in the journal Emerging Infectious Diseases.

Thermal imaging and infrared camera maker FLIR Systems Inc
(FLIR.O: ) makes an airport scanner called ThermoVision A20M;
privately held OptoTherm Thermal Imaging Systems and Infrared
Cameras Inc., based in Sewickley, Pennsylvania, makes the
OptoTherm Thermoscreen.

A third system, made by North Carolina-based Palmer Wahl
Instrumentation Group, was not found to be as accurate, and
three other systems did not meet criteria for testing.

Airport fever scanners were used in some countries during
last year’s pandemic of H1N1 swine flu and the 2003 outbreak of
Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome or SARS, which killed about
800 people globally before it was contained.

When diseases are spreading fast, some expert recommended
screening airline passengers, who can carry viruses around the
world in hours.

“Advancements in transportation coupled with the growth and
movement of human populations enable efficient transport of
infectious diseases almost anywhere in the world within 24
hours,” Nguyen’s team wrote.

“Because fever is a common indicator of many infectious
diseases, the rapid identification of fever is a major
component of screening efforts.”

People fearful of being detained may lie about feeling
feverish, the researchers noted.

“Despite limited evidence regarding their utility, infrared
thermal detection systems are increasingly being used for mass
fever detection,” Nguyen and colleagues wrote.

They tested three systems in several emergency rooms and
found they detected about 90 percent of fevers.

That compared with 75 percent accuracy when people were
asked if they felt like they had a fever.
(Editing by Peter Cooney)

Some fever scanners work, U.S. study finds