Acceptance of public health measures by air travelers, Switzerland

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Date: May 2009
From: Emerging Infectious Diseases(Vol. 15, Issue 5)
Publisher: U.S. National Center for Infectious Diseases
Document Type: Letter to the editor
Length: 1,150 words
Lexile Measure: 1360L

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To the Editor: Infectious diseases can spread rapidly by air travel, as did severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in 2003. Public health measures at airports might protect passengers and employees from such diseases and delay spread into the general population. The SARS epidemic was contained largely through traditional public health interventions (1,2). These interventions included recommendations to postpone nonessential travel, provide public health information and face masks, screen passengers at entry or exit by questionnaire, measure ear temperatures, provide medical examinations, isolate case-patients, and quarantine contacts.

For a future influenza pandemic, the World Health Organization does not encourage entry screening for any pandemic phase but leaves this decision for screening to each country (3). Switzerland currently considers entry screening, albeit not by infrared thermal scanning (4,5). Many travelers to developing countries do not obtain health information or use preventive measures (6). However, to be effective, public health measures must be communicated to and accepted by travelers. Current knowledge on acceptance of public health measures by air passengers is limited. Compliance with quarantine measures seems to depend on consistency of policies and credibility of public health messages (7).

To investigate passenger knowledge, communication preferences, and acceptance of public health measures for a hypothetical respiratory disease pandemic, we conducted a cross-sectional survey among passengers departing from EuroAirport Basel-Mulhouse-Freiburg (Haut-Rhin, France) to European destinations, and from Zurich Airport (Kloten, Switzerland) to Asian or North American destinations during the summer of 2007. Data were collected by a pretested, self-administered, 23-item questionnaire (in English, French, and German), which was distributed to all adult passengers in the departure waiting areas. Information was analyzed by basic statistical methods, [chi square] and t tests, and logistic regression adjusting for sex, age group, airport, residence region,...

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Gale Document Number: GALE|A201212098