Archive for October 3rd, 2006

Be Careful…Flu Spreads with Air Travel

October 3, 2006

images.jpgWhether you’re in business or leisure, air travel has been part the way to get things done.  As an educator and clinician, air tavel has always been a way of updating myself in the ever changing medical field. This time, Ill be traveling again to attend the World Insulin Resistance Meeting in Las Vegas and then proceed to San Francisco for the annual Clinical Endocrinology Update.  This will definitely entail a lot of air travel and again the possibility of catching air infection like flu.  .

In a study done by the group from Harvard- and MIT , published in the Public Library of Science- Medicine, the researchers concluded that indeed flu spreads easily during air travel.  When air traffic fell after the Sept. 11 attacks, this resulted in a drop in the number of people flying internationally and fell by around 27 percent.

Looking at data from the U.S. Department of Transportation and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for the years between 1996 and 2005, they noticed that the 2001-2002 flu season was highly aberrant: there was a delay in the peaking of flu season as well as a delay in the apparent spread of the flu season across the US.  The data suggest the impact of the change in the air traffic due to the drop in passengers after the September 11 attacks.  However in regions where there was no flight restrictions like France, there was no delay in flu activity during the 2001-2002 flu season.

“The more domestic travel, the faster the spread of flu, and the more inbound international travel, the earlier the influenza season begins.”

With the rainy season therefore, it is expected that the rate of flu infection will increase.  I therefore advise travelers to be more cautious especially if your seatmate starts sneezing and coughing.   It is also important to note that influenza is caused by a variety of viruses and usually the mix changes slightly from year to year thus flu vaccine is given yearly.  Likewise I recommend that flu vaccine should be given to all after the age of 50 and those with chronic illnesses like Diabetes and Heart Disease.  People whose daily activities require meeting people that entails a lot of hand shaking and document exchanges should also get vaccinated.

The best way however to avoid Flu in our day to day lives is plain and simple: FREQUENT HADWASHING… specifically to avoid spreading and catching the bug!

Enjoy Air Travel… Get Vaccinated!