A study by Nebraska researchers finds infra-red thermal imaging cameras would be helpful during an H1N1 pandemic. Dr. Angela Hewlett, an infectious disease expert at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, says the cameras measure skin temperature and could be used at hospital entrances to screen visitors and incoming patients.
“We found that it was an effective screening tool to identify patients with fever,” Dr. Hewlett says. “The ideal situation when this would be used would be in a pandemic situation like that of H1N1 influenza.”
She says the cameras detect fever of more than 100 degrees in patients through split-second, non-contact skin temperature measurements. Fever is a primary symptom of the seasonal flu, H1N1 and other infectious diseases. Hewlett says the cameras could be a big help.
Hewlett says, “That could actually identify patients or visitors who may be ill and thus, reduce the danger of them spreading a disease like influenza to other people in the hospital setting.”
The thermal imaging camera systems have been used in several countries to screen for fever in travelers. The goal is to protect patients, she says. The technology allows people to be quickly screened, so that incoming patients and visitors who may be ill can be identified quickly and reduce the danger of spreading diseases like influenza to other people in the hospital.
The system was tested on more than 560 people, ranging in age from 15 days to 89 years. Their temperatures were also cross-checked by traditional methods. Patients who were identified with fever could be separated or given surgical masks.