Well, damn… I’d finally gotten over my paranoia about possibly having H1N1 when it was confirmed I was simply fighting off a garden-variety “cold” virus. SUCH a relief to know that I wasn’t potentially flying to Texas as a living, breathing incubator for the swine flu, infecting everyone on the plane and Sal’s entire family in Texas.
And then, I read this:
How to dodge germs in the time of H1N1
By Elizabeth Cohen, CNN Senior Medical Correspondent
November 5, 2009 9:15 a.m. EST
On airplanes, you’re most likely to catch an illness from the people sitting in your row and in the row behind you, according to researchers at Purdue University, who developed an animation showing how germs move around an airplane.
“The bad news is if you’re in that strike zone, you’re at risk,” Gerberding said. “If someone sitting right near you has the flu, there’s a pretty good chance you’ll get it. Flu is very transmissible.”
Gerberding adds that you probably won’t catch the flu from someone sitting several rows away, since circulating air on planes goes through a HEPA filter.
“The good news is, if you’re not right in that strike zone, you’re probably at low risk,” she said.
Okay, so now when I board my two flights to Texas this evening I’ll be staring at everyone near me like a hawk, terrified that they’re breathing swine flu on me. But let’s assume the people immediately around me are all healthy… That means I’m safe, right?
Not so fast!
Another way you can catch a germ from someone is if you touch something a sick person has touched. For example, think about a busy escalator handrail.
“You and millions of others have touched it,” Medows said. “And they could be sneezing, wiping their nose, coughing in their hands, and then they touch the handrail.”
If you’re healthy, your immune system should be able to fight off most of what’s on a germy handrail, but even if you’re in tip-top shape, chances are you have no immunity to the H1N1 virus, since it’s so new.
Well, at least I’m not going to be in a building that sees thousands of individual people passing through it every day, touching things with their hands… Oh wait, I’m going to THREE different airports today. Hell.
I wonder if I can get through Security in a haz-mat suit…