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Avoiding illness during air travel

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For those of you embarking on holiday travel, WebMD has offered some tips for avoiding airport germs and keeping healthy in the air. And Clinical Cases and Images blog likely eased some flu-related fears yesterday by referencing a BMJ study showing the risk of influenza transmission on an airplane is (perhaps surprisingly) low:

The setting was in Auckland, New Zealand, with national and international follow-up of passengers. The participants were passengers seated in the rear section of a Boeing 747-400 long haul flight that arrived on 25 April 2009, including a group of 24 students and teachers and 97 (out of 102) other passengers in the same section of the plane who agreed to be interviewed.

9 members of the school group were laboratory confirmed cases of pandemic A/H1N1 infection and had symptoms during the flight. Two other passengers developed confirmed pandemic A/H1N1 infection. Their seating was within two rows of infected passengers, implying a risk of infection of about 3.5% for the 57 passengers in those rows.

Photo by PhillipC

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