CDC Directs Airlines to Diagnose and Quarantine 'Sick' Passengers

Map of Quarantine Stations – Source: CDC

April 29, 2009

LATE LAST NIGHT, the CDC issued a document called

    Interim Guidance to Assist Airline Flight Deck and Cabin Crew in Identifying Passengers Who May Have Swine Influenza

. The long titled directive contains some startling information:

This document provides interim guidance for domestic and international flights originating
from areas affected by the swine influenza A (H1N1) and will be updated as needed.

A new swine influenza A (H1N1) virus has infected humans in the United States and Mexico.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has determined that this swine
influenza A (H1N1) virus is contagious and is spreading from human to human. However, at
this time, it not known how easily the virus spreads between people. Some infected individuals
are known to have traveled on international and domestic flights while infectious.

Flight and cabin crew sometimes encounter ill passengers while performing their duties. When
an ill passenger is identified, flight and cabin crew are required to report passengers who meet certain illness criteria to CDC Quarantine Stations. [Emphasis SKG]

Interim Recommendations
During the swine influenza outbreak, extra vigilance is required to identify and report
passengers with respiratory symptoms or fever. Any passenger who appears ill, or who reports
not feeling well, should be observed or queried for the following signs or symptoms:

• Feeling feverish or temperature greater than 100°F (37.8°C) if measured. For children,
feeling warm by parent’s report.
• Sore throat
• Cough
• Stuffy or runny nose

Any passengers observed to have or who report having two or more of these symptoms
should be reported immediately to the CDC Quarantine Station of jurisdiction where the plane
is expected to land.

Flight and cabin crew should follow airline guidelines for preventing spread of infection when
interacting with these travelers.

A fever greater than one hundred could mean a lot of things. Imagine the terror to a child and his/her parents if/when an airline removes the family from the plane on suspicion of being infected with H1N1.

A cough and runny nose would be allergies! And what about these ‘CDC Quarantine Stations’? Where are these? A quick search of the CDC website led me to a pdf called ‘Quarantine Stations Fact Sheet’, which lists the current stations.

U.S. Quarantine Stations are located in

    • Anchorage • Miami
    • Atlanta • Minneapolis
    • Boston • Newark
    • Chicago • New York
    • Dallas • Philadelphia
    • Detroit • San Diego
    • El Paso • San Francisco
    • Honolulu • San Juan
    • Houston • Seattle
    • Los Angeles • Washington, D.C.

    If you would like to know more about the Quarantine Station in your area, you’ll find contact information on this page at the CDC website. Scroll down for the list of stations and contact info.

    Planning a trip on an airline? Make sure you don’t have allergies or a cold. You could end up cooling your heels in one of the 20 sites. Far from home.

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