Germs above the clouds

For most people, traveling is a fun way to relax and see new sights. But if you are planning your next vacation, you might want to consider a few tips to keep some nasty germs from spoiling your trip.

Getting sick on planes

You might not think so, but airplanes are one of the places where people are most vulnerable to getting sick. That’s because of the number of people who get on and off flights, the close proximity of the passengers next to you and the number of different surfaces people touch.

“You will probably be exposed to respiratory viruses both in the air and by what you touch.” Said Dr. Jason Bowling, director of hospital epidemiology at University Hospital and an infectious disease specialist at UT Health San Antonio

“One, you are in a small area with lots of people,” Dr. Bowling said. “Secondly, you are touching lots of surfaces and you don’t have ready access to wash your hands before you eat things. Third, people are sitting there without anything to do. They are spending a lot of time eating with their fingers. “

Should you fly on a plane if you are sick?

According to a recent study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, people seated along the aisle are most likely to come across potentially sick passengers or crew members as they move around a plane, which could increase their risk of being exposed to different infections. The study also found that a sick passenger may possibly infect up to two other passengers.

Because of this, it’s important to remember to protect yourself and others if you are traveling on a plane while sick.

“If you do travel when you are sick, it does potentially pose a risk to the people you are traveling with,” Dr. Bowling said. “Ideally, we would want everybody, if they are feeling ill or if they had an illness that would be transmissible to others, to stay home and not travel.”

How can I keep myself healthy when I fly?

Make sure to drink plenty of water and get your sleep. If you are traveling overseas, it’s important to talk to your doctor to make sure your vaccines are up to date if needed.

Finally, the best thing you can do is to bring a small container of hand sanitizer to keep your hands and the surfaces you touch clean — and use it often.

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