Onboard Death and Illness Reporting Tool for Pilots
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U.S. federal regulations
The U.S. Code of Federal Regulations [42 CFR 71.21(b)] pertains to international flights arriving to the United States and requires the pilot to report before arrival any deaths or illnesses among travelers (passengers or cabin crew) to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Early reporting ensures prompt ground response to maximize timely care, reduce the risk for spreading disease, and minimize travel disruption.
In addition to any onboard deaths, the regulations state that a pilot must report to CDC any of the following conditions, because they may indicate a serious contagious illness:
- Fever* reported to have lasted more than 48 hours; OR
- Fever* of any duration, plus any one of the following: rash, or swelling of the lymph glands, or jaundice (yellowing of skin or eyes); OR
- Persistent diarrhea
Other symptoms may also indicate a contagious illness that could pose a public health threat. Therefore, CDC requests that the pilot also report any illness with the following conditions:
- Fever* of any duration, plus any one of the following: difficulty breathing, or headache with stiff neck, or reduced level of consciousness, or unexplained bleeding.
*Cabin crew should consider someone to have a fever if the ill person feels warm to the touch, gives a history of feeling feverish, or has an actual measured temperature of 100° F (37.8° C) or greater.
How to report to CDC
Either of the following options meets federal regulations for reporting to CDC. When notified by the cabin crew of a death or suspected contagious illness in a traveler, the pilot may notify CDC through
- Air Traffic Services (ATS) if in international airspace or Air Traffic Control (ATC) if in U.S. airspace
Inform ATS/ATC there is an onboard death or suspected contagious illness(es) that needs to be reported to CDC.
- If not under U.S. Air Traffic Control (ATC), the international ATS will immediately forward the message to the ATC serving the destination airport in the United States.
- ATC will notify the Federal Aviation Administration’s Domestic Events Network (DEN) of the report, using the code “…requests a CDC consult.”
- The DEN will send the report to CDC’s Emergency Operations Center (EOC), and the EOC will notify the appropriate CDC Quarantine Station.
- The CDC Quarantine Station will contact a designated airline point of contact to obtain necessary details of the death or illness.
- Airline’s point of contact (POC) (e.g., Operations Center, Flight Control, airline station manager)
Provide to the POC the traveler’s name, seat number or work area, symptoms, approximate age, departure city, and other countries visited, if possible.
a.) Tell the POC to immediately notify the Quarantine Station at or closest to the airport where you are arriving: http://www.cdc.gov/quarantine/QuarantineStationContactListFull.html
b.) Tell the airline POC to immediately notify the CDC EOC (770.488.7100), who will then notify the appropriate CDC Quarantine Station.
Please note that CDC Quarantine Station staff can be consulted to assist in evaluating an ill traveler, provide recommendations, and answer questions about reporting requirements.