Study: Sick air travelers infect next row

The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences is updating information from your likelihood of getting sick from your airmates. The study finds that passengers seated within one row and within two seats laterally of the infected passenger had an 80 percent or greater probability of becoming infected.

The probability of infection was less than three percent for all other passengers.

UTHealth School of Public Health infectious disease epidemiologist Dr. Catherine Troisi said this is new from past information.

“Previously, we had thought if you were within two rows, either behind or in front of someone who was sick that you were at risk. This study shows it’s really one row and you have to be on the same side of the airplane,”said Troisi.

Researchers found infectious flight attendants could infect an average of 4.6 passengers per flight.

“If they’re sick and they’re walking up and down the aisle, they’re obviously exposing more people, than just someone sitting in a seat,”said Troisi.

She has some tips to help keep you healthy:

1. Ask to change your seat, if it’s not a full flight.

2. Hydrate with water frequently--throughout the entire flight.

3. Use saline spray for your nose to keep those mucus membranes from drying up. If you have a dry nose, that makes it easier for viruses to enter.

4. Wash hands or use sanitizer.

5. Wipe down tray tables, bathroom door handles, remote controls for long flights.

6. Always get your flu shot.

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