Thermal Imaging System for Human Fever Screening
Influenza kills over a million people worldwide every year with over 35,000 deaths in the US alone, and causes over 200,000 birth defects. It is one of the top ten causes of death in the United States. Even when yearly vaccines are accurately gauged against the prevalent strains coming from Asia, flu shots are still only 50% effective for Americans over 50. In spite of receiving flu vaccines, during an ordinary flu season in the USA, over 25% of the population is infected with Influenza.
Ebola virus disease (EVD), formerly known as Ebola haemorrhagic fever, is a severe, often fatal illness in humans that is transmitted to people from wild animals and spreads in the human population through human-to-human transmission. The average EVD case fatality rate is around 50%. The first EVD outbreaks occurred in remote villages in Central Africa, near tropical rainforests, but the most recent outbreak in west Africa has involved major urban as well as rural areas.
Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) is viral respiratory illness caused by a coronavirus called MERS-CoV primarily affecting seven countries in the Arabian Peninsula. MERS can cause severe acute respiratory illness and its symptoms include fever, cough, and shortness of breath.
The 2009 flu pandemic is a global outbreak of a new strain of an influenza A virus subtype H1N1, referred to as the "novel H1N1" first identified in April 2009, and commonly called "swine flu." It is thought to be a reassortment of four known strains of influenza A virus: one endemic in (normally infecting) humans, one endemic in birds, and two endemic in pigs (swine).
The outbreak began in Mexico and in early June, as the virus spread globally, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the outbreak to be a pandemic. The virus spreading with "unprecedented speed" and many clinics were soon overwhelmed testing and treating patients. The virus typically spreads from coughs and sneezes or by touching contaminated surfaces and then touching the nose or mouth.
Vaccines may soon be available but may be limited and given first to healthcare workers, pregnant women, and other higher risk groups. Two or three injections will be required for maximum immunity from both the swine flu and seasonal flu. There is also concern if the new virus mutates further, it could become more virulent and less susceptible to any new vaccine.
The WHO predicts an "explosion" of swine flu cases during the remainder of 2009 and into 2010. Because the global spread of swine flu will endanger more lives as it speeds up in coming months, they are alerting governments to boost preparations for a swift response. There will soon be a period of further global spread of the virus, and most countries may see swine flu cases double every three to four days for several months until peak transmission is reached. The CDC estimates that as many as 40% of the workforce, in a worst-case scenario, might be unable to work at the peak of the pandemic due to the need for many healthy adults to stay home and care for an ill family members.
Viruses are masters of interspecies navigation. Mutating rapidly and often swapping genetic material with other viruses, they can often jump from animals to humans. Avian and human influenza viruses can exchange genes when a person is simultaneously infected with viruses from both the common human influenza virus and the avian type. This process of gene swapping inside the human body can give rise to a completely new type of the influenza virus to which few, if any, humans would have any natural immunity. If the new virus contains sufficient human flu virus genes, transmission directly from person to person can occur.
Since the 1980s, the list of diseases that have jumped directly from animals to people has grown rapidly - hantavirus, SARS, monkeypox and, most recently, avian influenza, commonly called bird flu. Perhaps none of these illnesses has more potential to create widespread harm than bird flu. In people, bird flu usually begins much like conventional influenza, with fever, cough, sore throat and muscle aches, but bird flu can lead to life-threatening complications.
Avian flu has spread from Southeast Asia to China, Russia and now Europe. Human cases of avian influenza have been reported in Thailand and Vietnam. Researchers believe the deadly H5N1 form of bird flu has split into two distinct strains, a development that could make it harder to develop vaccines to stop the spread of the disease.
In 2003 the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) virus infected over 8,200 people in 29 countries, resulting in over 700 deaths worldwide. The World Health Organization (WHO) has repeatedly warned that SARS could return and the world must be on the alert for the resurgence of the virus. During the epidemic, SARS spread rapidly by person-to-person contact in hospitals and public transportation hubs, and there was a great need to screen large groups of people for fever, a primary symptom of SARS. Conventional body temperature measurement using oral and ear thermometers, however, were too slow and inconvenient to use for mass screening. A method of fever detection was needed that was fast, accurate, and non-obtrusive and thermal imaging was the technology chosen.
Between April 23 and June 4 of 2003, 30 million travelers were screened using thermal imagers; 9,292 were assessed as having elevated temperatures and were further evaluated, 38 people were suspected as SARS virus carriers, and 21 were finally diagnosed as having SARS.
This product is currently for export only. Optotherm is currently undergoing the US FDA Premarket Notification (510k) submission process for medical devices. As soon as Thermoscreen has been cleared, this product will be available for purchase in the US.