I’ve been around the world in the past few weeks, in and out of about a dozen airports, in half a dozen countries, on 4 continents. Along the way I have been entertained by the public health efforts of the countries I have visited to isolate cases of Swine Flu – or H1N1 – in traveling passengers.

In Cairo, before they upgraded to their new terminal, I was swarmed and nearly crushed by other passengers as were were all channeled down one corridor to have our bodies screened by a heat sensing video camera (3 weeks later when I passed through the same airport they had a new terminal and a proper screening area – progress is possible).

In Ethiopia there were lots of great public health posters saying how we should all work together to stop “this new flu”. Incidentally, after I landed I did end up with flu like symptoms, for about 24 hours. I was too worried I’d be locked up to go and see a doctor, so I sat it out.

On a flight to Frankfurt was given a long letter in German that I was to present to a German doctor explaining how I had traveled on a flight from New York and should be treated as a suspected Swine Flu case should I present with any symptoms.

Upon arrival in Chengdu, China yesterday we were told to remain seated for the quarantine inspection. Three masked men boarded the plane and went through the aisles with little temperature guns which were pointed at each passenger’s head and our temperature taken instantly. This was my favorite.

On the whole I’ve been mighty impressed with the global response to the Swine Flu – far from perfect, and many would argue overblown – but as I have argued before when we did not know, it was better to err on the side of caution. But I was impressed at how even some of the poorest countries in the world dedicated resources to monitoring for this epidemic.

According to a recent KFF report, the WHO is now recommending to countries that have detected cases to give up stepped up efforts to screen for swine flu and just use regular methods to diagnose the flu going forward. It appears that we have little to worry about with this phase of the epidemic. I’m happy to hear. I just hope this does not mean governments will give up all efforts to monitor for the disease because who knows, it may be back in a more harmful mode soon. It is too bad that there is not more regular, low level monitoring, somewhere between what happened before and some of the efforts adopted recently.

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