LONDON (Reuters) - Screening passengers at airports for SARS and influenza will probably not prevent the global spread of the illnesses, health experts said on Friday.
If there is a major outbreak of SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) or influenza, air travel is the most probable route of international infection.
But researchers at Britain's Health Protection Agency (HPA) who assessed the benefit of screening if an epidemic occurred said it would not pick up enough cases to be worthwhile.
In the case of SARS the incubation period is too long for pre-flight screening to offer any guarantee of spotting a carrier, while carriers of influenza are already infective up to two days before symptoms become apparent.
"The benefits are likely to be pretty small in terms of the number of people you are likely to pick up," Dr Richard Pitman, of the HPA which monitors infectious diseases, said in an interview.
Airport screening unlikely to stop flu, SARS spread