Scientists at the University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC) have found that the infrared thermal detection system (ITDS) can be used as a fast and effective fever screening tool for patients during a H1N1 influenza pandemic.

The system is used in several countries to screen for fever in travellers and can detect fever of more than 100° in patients through split-second, non-contact skin temperature measurements, researchers said.

The system allows clinicians to screen people for fever and identify ill patients from incoming patients and visitors to reduce the danger of spreading diseases such as influenza to other people in the hospital.

The system uses a thermal imaging camera to measure skin temperature by detecting and quantifying the infrared energy being emitted from the face.

A study to measure the use of the scanners was conducted on 566 patients, aged 15 days to 89 years old, which compared ITDS temperature measurements with standard temperature measurements.

Researchers cautioned that their study used mostly oral temperature measurements, which are not always accurate, but represent the most widely used measurement of temperature in clinical settings.