The threat of a virulent strain of influenza, severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), tuberculosis, H1N1/A virus
(swine flu) and possible mutations are a constant threat to global health. Implementation of pandemic infrared
thermographic screening is based on the detection of febrile temperatures (inner canthus of the eyes) that are correlated
with an infectious disease. Previous attempts at pandemic thermal screening have experienced problems (e.g. SARS
outbreak, Singapore 2003) associated with the deployment plan, implementation and operation of the screening
thermograph. Since this outbreak, the International Electrotechnical Commission has developed international standards
that set minimum requirements for thermographic system fever screening and procedures that insure reliable and
reproducible measurements. These requirements are published in IEC 80601-2-59:2008, Medical electrical equipment
- Part 2-59: Particular requirements for the basic safety and essential performance of screening thermographs for
human febrile temperature screening. The International Organization for Standardization has developed
ISO/TR 13154:2009, Medical Electrical Equipment - which provides deployment, implementation and operational
guidelines for identifying febrile humans using a screening thermograph. These new standards includes
recommendations for camera calibrations, use of black body radiators, view field, focus, pixels within measurement site,
image positioning, and deployment locations. Many current uses of thermographic screening at airports do not take into
account critical issues addressed in the new standard, and are operating below the necessary effectiveness and efficiency.
These documents, related thermal research, implications for epidemiology screening, and the future impact on medical
thermography are discussed.
Infrared thermal imaging was first made available to medicine in the early 1960's. Despite a large number of research publications on the clinical application of the technique, the images have been largely qualitative. This is in part due to the imaging technology itself, and the problem of data exchange between different medical users, with different hardware. An Anglo Polish collaborative study was set up in 2001 to identify and resolve the sources of error and problems in medical thermal imaging. Standardisation of the patient preparation, imaging hardware, image capture and analysis has been studied and developed by the group. A network of specialist centres in Europe is planned to work to establish the first digital reference atlas of quantifiable images of the normal healthy human body. Further processing techniques can then be used to classify abnormalities found in disease states. The follow up of drug treatment has been successfully monitored in clinical trials with quantitative thermal imaging. The collection of normal reference images is in progress. This paper specifies the areas found to be the source of unwanted variables, and the protocols to overcome them.