Six months ago the world had never heard of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).However, by mid-July, more than 8000 probable cases of this potentially fatal disease had been reported in 32 areas around the world.More than 800 deaths resulted from those reported cases, and the World Health Organization (WHO) labeled SARS “the first severe and easily transmissible new disease to emerge in the 21st century.” As the SARS epidemic began to spread at a rapid rate, health officials acted quickly to try and contain the disease.With no known vaccine or treatment for SARS, measures used to stem the outbreak included tracking the patterns of transmission, rapid detection and isolation of individual cases, quarantine of those in contact with the disease, and travel restrictions.
Infrared (IR) technology was quickly put to use as one method for rapid detection of potential SARS cases. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, person-to-person contact is the primary way that SARS is contracted. The disease spread quickly to many different countries through international air travel. Therefore,many airports required a way to quickly and noninvasively screen passengers for disease. IR thermal imaging offered an efficient solution.