• Staying healthy while traveling

    2010-10-14

    A long-awaited vacation can easily be ruined by an infectious disease caught on an airplane, but recent studies claim that some dangers have been overstated.

    A recent report by the National Research Council's Transportation Research board has found that airplanes are only about as dangerous as any other enclosed space in terms of disseminating pathogens. Most large jets also have high-quality air filters that remove germs from the air.

    The council has also emphasized that the pandemic scares that get the most attention, such as SARS or H1N1 in recent years, are the ones passengers need to fear least. Colds and stomach viruses should be a larger concern for travelers. Possible recommended safeguards against such ailments include hand-washing and wiping down surfaces, such as the tray-table, with hand sanitizer.

    It is also important for passengers not to panic if they leave the airplane feeling a little sick. Oxygen levels are lower inside the airplane and humidity levels inside the cabin often drop below 10 percent to avoid fuselage corrosion, so passengers should stay hydrated on the plane by drinking plenty of water and avoiding alcohol.

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