Remember when the swine flu panic began to build ? The day after President Obama urged the flu-worried masses to stay calm,  Joe Biden went rogue announcing he has urged family members to avoid airplanes and subways. Biden, told NBC’s “Today” show that he’d tell family members to avoid traveling in “confined spaces.”

“It’s not just going to Mexico. If you’re any place in a confined aircraft and one person sneezes, it goes all the way through the aircraft. That’s me. I would not be, at this point, if they had another way of transportation, suggesting they ride the subway.”

An Israeli company, Opgal Optronics Industries’ have developed a Fever Detection and Alarm System (FDA), that should help Joe six pack feel better about traveling.

The Fever Detector & Alarm System consists of a highly-sensitive infrared thermal camera integrated with customized software . The system screens real-time thermal images to detect individuals passing through its field of view whose body temperatures exceed a pre-set threshold. When the camera detects such an individual it gives off an alarm and the specific person can be pulled aside for further evaluation:

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Israel’s Opgal helps identify who’s got flu
By Karin Kloosterman
May 27, 2009

How do you stop a virus like swine flu from sweeping the world? Well you could start at the airport. An Israeli company claims that this is a real possibility with its heat sensor technology that can detect fever in passengers travelling through an airport, a train station or other transportation hubs.

Opgal Optronics Industries’ Fever Detection and Alarm System (FDA), can pinpoint people in a crowd that are suffering from elevated temperatures.

The first model of the product was brought to market during the global SARS epidemic, in 2003 and it later found a niche market among Asian customers a couple of years ago when Avian flu became a widespread problem there. The company sold more than 300 units to Asian nations.

Now the Karmiel-based company believes it’s the perfect tool to halt the spread of swine flu or other pandemics that might threaten the world’s health.

The FDA is an infrared thermal imaging device that can sense the temperature of the body and face in real time. Using sophisticated sensors and algorithms that consider ambient temperature, the FDA device can sense within a half degree centigrade if someone is suffering from a fever, says company CEO Dror Sharon.

Too hot to pass by

One symptom of the swine flu, for example, is a high body fever over 100.4° f (38°c). The FDA system can flag individuals with elevated body temperatures that pass within its detection cameras.

If it detects a person with a fever, an alarm will sound and security officials can pull that person aside for further questioning or a swab, as done in some airports where passengers show symptoms of the swine flu today.

“This non-invasive system, which costs about $10-15,000 per system, can be immediately deployed in airports and other transportation hubs since it does not require any special infrastructure,” Sharon tells ISRAEL21c.

“The idea behind the technology is that it can detect from a distance if a person has a fever or not. You can set the camera to a specific threshold, and can know pretty accurately what temperature each person is,” he continues. “It’s good for anyone who comes into an airport or a closed environment — a factory or at a school – wherever you want you can see if this person has a fever or not. If his temperature registers about 37°C, he is suspected to be sick with something.”

Sharon says the company is currently dealing with many inquiries from around the world. “Because it can scan large groups of people at a time, it will be extremely useful in keeping the flow of passengers moving and enable public gatherings during these difficult times,” he explains.

Since it is an Israeli company I am surprised there isn’t an option were instead of an alarm, there is the voice of a Jewish mother. “YOU ! What are you doing out when you are sick? Don’t you care about other people? Oy, and you look like you haven’t been eating.”