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At the border, agents conduct ‘passive screening’ for flu symptoms

Cronkite News Service
NOGALES, Ariz. (Monday, April 27) _ Customs officers at the border port here watched people coming into Arizona on Monday for signs of swine flu and warned those arriving to be alert for symptoms.
Teresa Small, a spokeswoman for U.S. Customs and Border Protection, said officers were working under guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Olga Zuniga (left) of Tucson, Olga Molina of Tucson and Emilio Molina, Olga Molina’s son, talk with a U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agent on Monday, April 27, 2009, at the port of entry in Nogales. Due to the swine flu outbreak originating in Mexico, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security told agents to conduct “passive screening” at the border, handing out information on swine flu and looking for those exhibiting symptoms.
(Source: Cronkite News Service Photo/Jonathan J. Cooper)

“We’re not doctors but are trained to look for the basic symptoms, interview them further to see if they may be a carrier of this disease,” Small said in a telephone interview from San Luis.
Under the procedures, described by federal officials as “passive screening,” officers will quarantine travelers who appear to have swine flu, Small said. No one had been quarantined in Arizona by late Monday afternoon, she said.
The agency is distributing health alert notices from the CDC to travelers entering Arizona. The one-page fliers list swine flu symptoms and advise travelers to avoid contact with sick people and wash their hands after sneezing or coughing.
They also tell people who get sick after visiting Mexico to seek medical attention immediately and advise the doctor of their travel.
Small said masks and gloves were available for customs officers concerned about their health.
The federal government is advising Americans to avoid unnecessary travel outside the United States, especially to Mexico and other affected areas, Small said.
Customs officers at the port of entry here reported normal traffic flow Monday.
Linda Hall, who lives in Green Valley and traveled with a friend to a dentist appointment in Mexico, said she has a weakened immune system but decided she would be safe because hadn’t heard of any suspected swine flu cases near Nogales.
“I wouldn’t come down here if they had a really big outbreak in this area,” Hall said.
Mark Wieging of Tubac said he travels to Mexico weekly and this time noticed a lot of people wearing surgical masks. But he wasn’t concerned about his safety, he said.
“I’ve survived too many things in my life to worry about the swine flu,” he said.

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