Often used in industrial processing applications, thermal imaging cameras are joining the fight against infectious disease.

Fixed infrared scanners and thermal imagers from Raytek/Ircon, headquartered in Santa Cruz, Calif., as well as handheld infrared thermal imagers from parent company, Fluke in Everett, Wash., can be used at factories, airports, terminals, hospitals, schools and public gathering areas to identify people with elevated temperatures resulting from an infectious disease such H1N1 influenza A (aka, Swine Flu). Individuals who register a fever then can be isolated for further evaluation to help prevent the spread of disease.

Lessons learned from the outbreak of SARS (Avian flu) a few years ago indicate that infrared noncontact temperature measurement can be an effective, easily deployed solution for identifying individuals who may have elevated skin temperatures.

The human body and all objects emit infrared energy. The Tokyo airport currently is using infrared thermographic imaging to screen large numbers of passengers arriving on international flights. Other countries, including Australia, Thailand, Singapore and Mexico, have instituted similar screening processes to aid in fever detection. Raytek/Ircon and Fluke infrared noncontact thermometers measure surface temperature, including that of skin, which is displayed in color using a thermal imager or linescanner. An alarm or red light indicator is triggered when anyone passes through the scanning area such as a metal detector at the airport with a body temperature outside the normal range.

Growing international travel and migration have increased the risk of spreading viral diseases. In response to this threat, public health authorities around the world need a noninvasive, fast and reliable method to detect elevated human body temperature. Infrared thermometry is noncontact, so there is less chance of spreading infection or disease. Temperature readings are immediate, so large groups of people can be screened quickly, and it is safe and innocuous.

People can be moving during thermal screening, so travel is not delayed. Key features of the Raytek or Fluke system include a wide field-of-view to monitor adults and children without moving the camera, automatic data capture for record keeping, red light output for quick visual identification of alarm, and easy installation and setup. The Ircon system includes automated thermal image capture, alarm output to a PC or to a light with relay accessory, real-time video output, and data storage for trend analysis. Both systems are fully automated, so an operator is not needed for temperature screening.

Ircon IR Maxline 2 fixed thermal imager has a three-year warranty for commercial use. No export license is required for the Raytek MP150 fixed linescanner, ensuring fast delivery worldwide.