New Manual Helps Airports Respond to International Passengers with Communicable Diseases
U.S. Secretary of Transportation Mary E. Peters has announced that a new manual will help airlines, airports, and local governments prepare to prevent the introduction of emerging diseases to the United States. She noted that the manual would help officials recognize and control pandemic outbreaks before they have a widespread impact on public health.
The National Aviation Resource Manual for Quarantinable Diseases is the first comprehensive guide for the aviation community on preventing the introduction of threatening diseases to the United States by international air travel. The manual was published by the U.S. Department of Transportation in association with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
The manual sets out the roles of the pilot-in-command, airline operations center, the airport operator, state and local health and emergency management departments, law enforcement agencies, health care facilities, support organizations, and federal government agencies when a flight arrives with ill passengers on board.
In addition, the manual covers the planning needed to address an incident while the plane is in flight and upon arrival at the airport. It also discusses the treatment of passengers and crew that may have been exposed to illness and discusses recovery after an incident.
The manual provides an overview of how to manage and control the arrival of a passenger at a U.S. airport from abroad who may be suffering or may have been exposed to one of nine specified diseases–cholera, diphtheria, communicable tuberculosis, plague, smallpox, yellow fever, viral hemorrhagic fever, severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), or avian influenza with pandemic potential–for which federal law requires isolation or quarantine. The manual also provides guidance to communities on developing airport-specific plans to respond to such incidents.
Secretary Peters said that the manual is part of a Bush Administration initiative to prepare for a potential outbreak of pandemic influenza. She noted that the Department also is developing plans to ensure that the nation’s transportation system can provide essential transportation services during a pandemic outbreak, which include working with other government agencies to ensure adequate transportation capacity and the rapid movement of critical shipments.