Home Beat The FLU Vacation Flying With The Flu

Flying With The Flu

Some 45 percent[1] of travellers will not cancel or postpone their flights due to the flu. What could this mean to you?

Boarding a flight while having an infectious disease goes against common travel etiquette.

Yet so many would rather fly with the flu, just to save themselves the hassle and cost of rescheduling or cancelling their trips.

But, this couldn’t possibly be good for the other passengers, right?

Flu spreads easily via nasal and salivary droplets from infected persons to other people in the vicinity.

No wonder flu ranks as one of the most common diseases to afflict travellers.[2]

It would be awful if you were to catch the flu on a business trip. How could you be at your best if you can barely speak with a sore throat, think while having a fever, or strategise when your body is racked with chills and aches? Looking professional would be the last thing on your mind as you alternate between bouts of vomitting and slumping with fatigue[3].

Having a ‘wonderful’ time. Wish you were here.

Holidaying with the flu is just as depressing. Instead of enjoying the sights and sounds of your dream destination, you might end up languishing in bed – possibly in the company of your friends or family members who also got infected.

But that’s not all.

Flu can lead to complications, such as sinus or ear infections, bronchitis, chronic obstructive lung diseases, pneumonia and meningitis.[4] 

These may lead to hospitalisation (and shocking hospital bills) or, in extreme cases, death.

Is flu-free travel possible? The answer is “Yes” by taking these measures:

  • Get vaccinated against the flu. Do this every year to help protect yourself against the latest mutations of the virus[5]. Allow at least 2 weeks before you travel.[6]
  • Wipe or, better yet, disinfect your arm rests, food tray, and LED screen when on board. Wash your hands frequently and avoid touching your face too. It helps to keep hand sanitisers handy.[7]
  • Finally, if you find yourself sitting next to someone who is coughing and sneezing incessantly, speak to the flight attendant.[8] Try changing to another seat further than 2 rows away.[9] If this is not possible, suggest that the sick passenger be given a mask to wear; this may help reduce the risk of spreading his or her germs to you and others in the surrounding area.


References
[1] Levine, IS. 2013. Why Air Passenger Fly with the Flu.  https://www.huffingtonpost.com/irene-s-levine/flying-with-the-flu_b_4138648.html [Accessed November 7, 2017]
[2] Askling et al. 2010. Influenza in travellers. Curr Opin Infect Dis. 23:421-425
[3] CDC. 2016. Flu symptoms & complications. https://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/disease/complications.htm [Accessed Dec 21, 2016]
[4] NHS. 2015. Complications of flu. http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Flu/Pages/Complications.aspx [Accessed Dec 21,2016]
[5] WHO. 2017. Influenza. http://www.who.int/ith/vaccines/si_iAh1n1/en/ [Accessed Jan 27, 2017].
[6] CDC. 2016. Influenza prevention: information for travelers. https://www.cdc.gov/flu/travelers/travelersfacts.htm [Accessed Dec 26, 2016]
[7] CDC. 2016. Preventing the flu: good health habits can help stop germs. https://www.cdc.gov/flu/protect/habits.htm [Accessed November 7, 2017]
[8] CDC. 2016. Preventing the flu: good health habits can help stop germs. https://www.cdc.gov/flu/protect/habits.htm [Accessed November 7, 2017]
[9] Askling et al. 2010. Influenza in travellers. Curr Opin Infect Dis. 23:421-425

SPMY.IFLU.17.11.0419