Epidemic Rule Seeks
Report Of Travelers'
Flu Symptoms
(Bloomberg) -- Travelers entering the U.S. with fever and other flu-like symptoms would be reported by the airline or ship that brought them, under new rules proposed today, a U.S. public-health official said.
The rules would expand the list of conditions that airlines and ships are required to report among travelers crossing some state lines and for those arriving from abroad, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in an e-mailed statement. The regulation changes also clarify an appeals process for people placed under quarantine, the Atlanta-based agency said.
The regulations ``will allow the CDC to move more swiftly'' when attempting to avert outbreaks, said Martin Cetron, director of the CDC's Division of Global Migration and Quarantine, on a conference call with reporters today. ``What we have now is a very passive system.''
The proposed changes were prompted by the epidemic of SARS in 2002 and 2003 that sickened 8,096 people and killed 774 on three continents in about nine months. U.S. government officials estimate a global pandemic of avian influenza, if such a virus becomes contagious in humans, would kill as many as 1.9 million Americans and hospitalize 9.9 million. The frequency of international travel will spread the disease, CDC officials said.
Under the rules, a sick person who should be reported would have a fever of 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or higher that has lasted at least 48 hours or is combined with a rash, swollen lymph nodes, headache or wavering consciousness; diarrhea; or bleeding, jaundice, difficulty breathing or a cough with bloody sputum.
When ``compatible symptoms are noticed in a passenger on a flight or ship, there will be a requirement for the captain to report it to the quarantine station that has jurisdiction over that port of entry'' for medical personnel to assess them, Cetron said today. ``We're not talking about quarantining anybody for a sniffle.''
Ideally, a captain would call in a report of an evidently- ill passenger before arriving at the destination, where public- health-service officials could handle the matter, Cetron said.
The proposal also outlines procedures for government orders to quarantine people, and for how a person may appeal an order. For example, the CDC director would schedule a hearing within one day of such a request.
In quarantine, a person's movement and contact with others is restricted for the amount of time it takes a certain disease to incubate, to prevent transmission to others. The person is released if symptoms don't develop during the period.
Diseases that qualify for quarantine are: plague, cholera, tuberculosis, yellow fever, diphtheria, smallpox and the hemorrhagic fevers Ebola, Marburg and Crimean-Congo. Influenza, when caused by a new or reemerging viral strain with the potential to cause a pandemic, is also among communicable diseases for which the federal health service is authorized to order a quarantine.
The CDC has 18 quarantine stations nationwide. The public has 60 days to comment on the proposed regulations.
Industry Costs
Ships and airlines also would be required make passenger and crew lists available in electronic format for at least 60 days after arrival, and be able to submit them within 12 hours of a CDC request. The lists should include names, contact information and seat assignments.
Cetron said the lists will be vital for tracing contacts quickly during a disease's incubation period, and would improve on the response time achieved during the SARS outbreak, when health officials had to reconstruct contacts based on incomplete and delayed information.
The travel and transportation industries would pay the expenses for collecting and storing information, either at the time a ticket is purchased or at departure, and for updating computer systems, according to a government-funded analysis included in the proposed rule.
Complying with the changes would cost airlines about $108 million to $356 million a year for 10 years, depending on when they collect passenger information and counting only international flights and interstate flights from large and medium-sized U.S. airport hubs, the report said. Including interstate flights from all U.S. airports might raise the cost to $386 million a year. Estimated costs for cruise lines were as high as $39 million a year.
"The proposed rule would have a significant impact on the private sector, particularly air carriers,'' according to the document's text.




This Site Served by TheHostPros