Magazine article USA TODAY

Avoiding Respiratory Infections in Midair

Magazine article USA TODAY

Avoiding Respiratory Infections in Midair

Article excerpt

A few simple precautions can reduce the possibility of catching a respiratory or other infection while traveling in a crowded plane -- or bus or train, for that matter -- suggests Lucy Tompkins, the head of Stanford (Calif.) University Medical Center's infection prevention program. "If you get sick after a plane flight, the likely cause is contact with a seatmate or failing to wash your hands after a trip to the restroom. There's nothing really special about an airplane in terms of infection except that you're in very close contact with people for a relatively long period of time. Many people fear that the recirculating air in an airliner is a special culprit in transmitting colds or other viral infections, but colds and flu are usually picked up from surfaces, such as an armrest or a washroom basin." Tompkins offers two useful suggestions for protecting yourself while in flight:

First, be sure to wash your hands after visiting the restroom, even if you just went in there to get a cup of water. …

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