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How A No-Touch Thermometer Detects A Fever
National Public Radio

In the battle to stop Ebola’s spread, health officials worldwide have been deploying thermometers in hopes of detecting the earliest symptoms among people who might be sick. The no-contact thermometer, already broadly used in some airports in Africa, has come to U.S. airports this week — now at New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport, and, starting Thursday, at D.C.’s Dulles, Chicago’s O’Hare, Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson, and Newark’s Liberty.

The goal is to detect fever; for public screening purposes, according to guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an elevated temperature higher than 100.4 Fahrenheit (if you have reason to think you might have been exposed to Ebola) merits follow-up.

Of course, many illnesses — many mild and some severe — can cause fever, and checking for fever at airports didn’t start with Ebola. In 2003, some Asian airports used thermometers as part of their screening of passengers for symptoms of severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS. And in 2009, with prompting from the World Health Organization, airports checked the temperature of some travelers, looking for symptoms of H1N1 flu.

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