April 27, 2009

Is It Safe to Fly During the Swine Flu Outbreak?

Posted: 11:14 PM ET

By Mark Gendreau, M.D./NY Times Blog

The novel infectious agent implicated in the current swine flu outbreak — comprised of genetic material from pigs, birds and humans — has shown the world once again the role air travel plays in rapidly spreading infectious outbreaks.t1homemoralestravelcnn1 The reported swine flu cases outside of Mexico likely came from infected tourists traveling home from Mexico on commercial aircraft or their close contacts. As Nobel Laureate Joshua Lederberg once wrote: “The microbe that felled one child in a distant continent yesterday can reach yours today and seed a global pandemic tomorrow.”


Are there ways to protect oneself against the spread of swine flu when flying?


Because the passenger cabin airflow is compartmentalized into several sections, risk of on-board transmission of infection is mainly restricted to individuals with either close personal contact with an infected and contagious passenger or seated within two rows of a contagious passenger. Unfortunately, we don’t always have the opportunity to select who we are going to be seated next to, so exposure is pure chance.

Here are some measures you can take to help protect yourself during air travel during this outbreak:

Postpone travel if you are sick. Although it is recommended you postpone travel until you are no longer infectious, in reality this recommendation is not commonly followed by passengers, especially since few travelers purchase travel insurance. In fact, it’s a good idea for all passengers to postpone any nonessential air travel during times of a national or international health emergency, such as the current swine flu outbreak, especially to countries where the outbreak is large.

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Filed under: Larry King Live • Medical • Mexico

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Dave of Detroit   April 28th, 2009 9:22 am ET

I'll stay at home thanks-I have yet to see any reason for the high number of deaths in Mexico and hardly any in any other Nation. Was there a delay in treatment or is the Mexican Swine Flu a stronger strain that broke down after the initial infection. My other question has to do with the CDC of the U.S. closing labs for poor Biological Containment procedures-Was this genetically engineered and if so by who and how did it get away from containment? I think someone screwed up "big time!"

Redtopp   April 29th, 2009 12:16 am ET

In my opinion, if the flu is coming from Mexico..then who in their right mind would consider going there...and why are we not closing our borders until this flu is contained or at least until they are more certain about its origin...better safe than sorry. As for flying, someone is gonna get thru no matter how much spraying down of the planes they do..someone will not have the symptoms until he/she lands in the USA ...

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