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Health Agencies Update
May 25, 2005

Infection and Air Travel

JAMA. 2005;293(20):2463. doi:10.1001/jama.293.20.2463-c

United States government agencies are working with airlines and aviation regulators to safeguard against the spread of infectious diseases, both naturally caused and the result of bioterrorism, through air travel.

A summary of a recent hearing held by the House subcommittee on aviation stated, “With over 1.6 billion passengers traveling worldwide each year, there is increasing concern that potentially deadly pathogens such as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) can be transmitted around the world in a matter of hours.” The summary also stated that there are concerns of a potential spread of avian influenza that, if mutated into a more contagious form, could lead to a global pandemic. In addition, deadly epidemics might be intentionally caused by terrorists and transported across the globe by air travelers.

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