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Air Transport & Communicable Diseases

Communicable diseases, particularly those with the potential of becoming public health emergencies of international concern, have important implications for airlines and their customers. A primary goal of IATA in any such event is to ensure a timely flow of accurate information to its members, the traveling public and the industry as a whole.  

Plague update

An outbreak of pneumonic (lung-based) plague is ongoing in Madagascar since August 2017. Plague is caused by the bacteria Yersinia pestis, a bacterium usually found in small mammals and their fleas. Humans can be infected through the bite of infected fleas, unprotected contact with infectious bodily fluids or contaminated materials, or the inhalation of respiratory droplets/small particles from a patient with pneumonic plague. Antibiotics are effective against plague if patients are diagnosed in time.

IATA is supporting WHO efforts and is in close contact with ICAO as well as other air transport stakeholders. Read the latest WHO bulletin. WHO advises against any restriction on travel or trade on Madagascar based on the available information. More information on the outbreak is available on the WHO website:

Zika update

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) continues to coordinate closely with the World Health Organization (WHO), the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), and all the travel and transport stakeholders, to support WHO’s effort in managing this outbreak and minimizing the negative impact on the affected countries and the transport industry.

Read the report of the Fourth meeting​ of the Emergency Committee under the International Health Regulations (2005) regarding microcephaly, other neurological disorders and Zika virus.

Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) and Human infection with avian influenza A(H7N9) virus update

The World Health Organization (WHO) continues to monitor these two conditions very closely although these conditions do not currently qualify as Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC).

WHO does not advise special screening at points of entry with regard to these events nor does it currently recommend the application of any travel or trade restrictions. See the WHO statement on the Ninth Meeting of the IHR Emergency Committee regarding MERS-CoV.

For more information please consult the WHO web page. Also, find advice to the pilgrims of Umra and Hajj.

Working with the WHO

IATA works closely with the World Health Organization (WHO), the global authority on public health emergencies, on a range of public health issues. For example, see the WHO Guide on Hygiene and Sanitation in Aviation (pdf) and the guidelines for TB prevention and control​.

Working with National Public Health Authorities

IATA also cooperates with national authorities. In association with ICAO, IATA contributed to the United States Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)’s Infection Control Guidelines for Cabin Crew Members on Commercial Aircraft.

Emergency response

Based on the experience with different outbreaks, IATA has produced an Emergency Response Plan and Action Checklist (pdf), ), for use by air carriers in the event of a public health emergency.​​

An important part of this plan involves a series of guidelines and best practices for airline staff in the event of public health emergencies. 

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