My speaker-pal and heart-sister Tracey Conway sent me this great information for all of us, like me, who are boarding a plane and worried about catching swine flu. Thanks Tracey!
To all my friends who have plans to fly in the next few weeks, this is from from an article in Newsweek online, Mark Gendreau, an assistant professor of emergency medicine at Tufts University and vice-chairman of emergency medicine at Lahey Clinic in Burlington, Mass., who has written extensively on aviation medicine:
What do passengers need to be thinking about when they’re traveling on airplanes? Any precautions they should take?
The risk of infection within any confined space is dependent on three things: the strength of the source strand [how contagious or lethal it is], proximity to exposure and ventilation. You can’t change the lethality and you don’t have control over who you’re seated next to. However, unless you’ve come in very close contact, basically within two rows of a contagious person, you don’t have much to fear in terms of contracting an illness … so if you’re seated in row 12 and you’re hearing somebody coughing in row 30 you don’t have to worry.
What if you’re in row 29?
The good news is you can still minimize risk by practicing very good hand hygiene, not touching eyes or nose and using alcohol-based hand sanitizers. The second important thing to think about is ventilation. You can actually increase the ventilation at your seat a little bit more, through the overhead air releaser. What I recommend people do is turn it on to a low stream and position it so the flow goes in front of your face. That will increase the ventilation, at minimal, create a turbulence of air in front of your face. If a particle is coming by, that might be enough to push it out of the way.
The final thing is to keep yourself well hydrated. The mucus membrane is one of the body’s first barriers and inside there are a lot of enzymes our body uses to destroy viruses and bacteria. When mucus membranes get dehydrated, it’s postulated they’re not going to work as well. So drinking plenty of nondehydrating fluids could be good.