WHAT’S BEING CLAIMED:
- The worst of the nasty flu season in the U.S. has come to an end but you might still catch it especially if you’re a frequent flier.
- Experts have been saying that perhaps the best advice to avoid catching flu while flying is to get a window seat.
- According to a small study on the risks of catching the flu during air travel, staying in a window seat would keep you away from people with infectious illnesses who may be on the aisle or moving around the plane.
For a passenger who doesn’t want to get sick, “get in that window seat and don’t move,” said Vicki Stover Hertzberg of Emory University in Atlanta, the study’s lead researcher. Fewer people passing by next to you means fewer opportunities to catch viruses.
The study required groups of researchers to fly around the world to test cabin surfaces, check air for viruses and germs, and observe how people on board come into contact with each other.
But the study’s flaw: they were able to observe only one passenger coughing, in a total of 10 flights. Although the research was done during a flu season five years ago, researchers didn’t find even one of 18 cold and flu viruses they tested for.
Hertzberg said that there’s a possibility that the researchers happened to fly on planes where there no sick people on them.
Chicago-based Boeing Co initiated and sponsored the research. Boeing also hired one of the researchers, Howard Weiss of Georgia Tech to write the results.
“But there was no particular pressure to change stuff or orient it one way or the other,” Hertzberg said.
It was published online by the scientific journal, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Researchers who were not involved in the study said that since the study is relatively small, it would be difficult to come up with any general conclusions about the risks of an airline passenger catching a cold or flu, or even more serious diseases like measles or tuberculosis.
There were previous studies to check how respiratory viruses spread in laboratories and in homes, but “this is the first time I’ve seen it done for airplanes,” said Seema Lakdawala, a biologist at University of Pittsburgh who studies how flu spreads.
Prevention is better than cure, true. That would mean, also avoiding highly contaminated areas and avoid waiting in tight lines to board the plane.
Bring a small bottle of nasal spray to prevent your nose and mouth getting dry. Pack a small vial of antibacterial gel or wipes. Use this to kill any germs in your area or in the lavatory.
Turning on your overhead air vent increases air circulation and can shoo germs away when someone sitting next to you sneezes.
Source: Fox News