Feasibility of Applying Travel Safety Short Message Service (SMS) for Risk Assessment on Infectious Disease Exposure, Taiwan, 2015

DOI: 10.6525/TEB.20170808.33(15).002

Tzu-An Pan, Chia-Lin Lee, Ding-Ping Liu

2017 Vol.33 NO.15

Correspondence Author: Tzu-An Pan

  • Epidemic Intelligence Center, Centers for Disease Control, Ministry of Health and Welfare, Taiwan


The frequent tourism, economic, and trade exchange activities have increased travelers’ probability of exposure to infectious disease during trip. Convenient transportation tools facilitate the spread of various infectious diseases, even result in outbreaks in communities. To develop approaches to assess and manage the risks of infectious disease exposure of outbound Taiwanese travelers is important for providing a reference for infectious disease surveillance, blockade of disease importation, and prevention and control policies. At present, the statistics on number of outbound travelers from Tourism Bureau reflect the status of overseas travel. However, with limited information on countries without direct flights, such statistics were biased in risk assessment on travel-related infectious disease exposure. This study analyzed the secondary data of travel safety Short Message Service (SMS) sent by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in order to assess the feasibility of applying the SMS in risk assessment on infectious disease exposure of outbound travelers.

The results showed that the data of SMS, reflecting numbers of travelers to certain countries, can be used as an important reference for assessing the risk of infectious disease exposure of travelers and their compliance with suggestions on tourism epidemic condition. However, due to the limitation of non-mandatory reception, individual’s cell phone usage habit, non-transferrable of text messages to China, Hong Kong, and Macau, and not all of the telecom operators participated in this policy, the data were still incomplete. We recommended combining travel safety SMS with statistics on number of outbound travelers from Tourism Bureau to complete the data.

Keywords:Risk of infectious disease exposure, Border entry, Travel safety SMS, Risk assessment