Web Zap*Germs Archive

November 23, 2005

CDC Wants Travel Info to Spot Infectious Disease Transmission

The WSJ describes CDC's plan in a subscription-only article, but here's the jist:
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention proposed requiring airlines and cruise lines to hand over names, home addresses and other information about passengers and crew to help public-health officials track down people who might have been exposed to infectious diseases such as avian flu.

The move is part of a larger push by the Atlanta[-based, US Government] agency to overhaul federal contact-tracing and quarantine rules that haven't been updated in more than 25 years. While the proposed changes could help the CDC contain deadly avian flu if it erupts into a global pandemic, they are likely to spur privacy concerns. The toughened data-gathering requirements also could cost the airline and cruise industries as much as $395 million a year, according to a government estimate.

The passenger-information proposal calls for airlines and cruise companies to keep travel itineraries and other data in an electronic database for 60 days following the passenger or crew member's flight or trip. The information would have to be turned over to the CDC if the agency determined that it was needed for a public-health investigation.


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