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When Pigs Fly: Airline Travel and Swine Flu

With schools across the nation back in session, from universities to the elementary grades, swine flu cases are on the rise. This H1N1 virus spreads more quickly among children, teens, and young adults, but reported cases have been mild.

However, this uptick in cases indicates that flu season is coming early, and back-to-school season also means travel season for the business class. If you're flying soon, should you be worried about catching the flu? Read more to find out.

Infectious disease expert Dr. William Schaffner told the CBS Morning Show that we all shouldn't be afraid to fly, but he warned that if you're sick you should stay off a plane. Dr. Shaffner explained that a frequent flier's best defense against the flu is to get vaccinated, and when the vaccine for the swine flu becomes available later this Fall, to get that too. Common sense practices apply as well. Wash your hands frequently and avoid travelers who are coughing a lot. While the latter might be difficult on a crowded flight, the recycled air on many planes is run through a high-efficiency filter, which takes out many of the germs. Plus, air is recirculated in segments, so you are not breathing air that has been exposed to the entire plane. Also expect a shortage of in-flight blankets and pillows; many airlines have removed them as a precaution against spreading the virus.

Keep washing your hands. Remember to cough into your elbow. Hopefully we will all stay well this cold and flu season. My instincts tell me that with two kids in school and a husband traveling a bunch for work, I will stay healthy through a viral season when pigs fly.

Image Source: Getty
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