Using infrared thermography to help prevent the spread of viruses

Fluke Australia Pty Ltd
Thursday, 23 October, 2014

Since the Swine Flu threat and the most recent outbreak of Ebola in West Africa, healthcare providers and public officials have been using non-contact infrared cameras to quickly scan large numbers of people in public areas for the elevated body temperatures that could indicate a virus infection.

Airports, bus stations, seaports, hospitals, schools and other public gathering areas are a few examples of where non-contact thermal imaging could be used to detect and help prevent the spread of virus infections.

Non-contact infrared cameras produce an infrared (IR) or thermal image which can detect very subtle temperature differences, letting officials instantly identify individuals who register higher than normal body temperatures, so they can be isolated for further evaluation.

Individuals with fevers often have elevated skin temperature and infrared cameras have the ability to measure extremely subtle temperature differences. The body’s highest temperature measurement is generally around the nose, eye socket and oral cavity areas. A non-contact infrared camera can quickly scan large crowds for individuals who register higher than normal body temperatures and an alarm can be triggered to indicate further testing is needed using a contact thermometer specifically designed to measure body temperature.

Benefits of non-contact infrared temperature measurement include:

  • Non-contact, which reduces the chance of spreading infection or disease.
  • Immediate temperature measurements.
  • Safe and innocuous screening with no risk to public safety.
  • People can be screened while moving, which means travel is not delayed.

In 2009, officials at the Benito Juarez Airport in Mexico City turned to Fluke infrared cameras to help in the screening process of H1N1 influenza A (Swine Flu). Fluke infrared cameras provided a means for screening large numbers of people from a distance, quickly and easily with minimal disruption. And since using IR for health screening required little training, the technology was easy to integrate into existing security measures. With the help of Fluke infrared cameras, seven confirmed cases of persons affected by the H1N1 influenza A were detected at the Mexico City airport.

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