Interesting new article in Time Magazine’s healthland: A New Study Shows That Sitting Close to a Sick Person on a Flight Can Make You Sick – - TIME Healthland.
The article is based on a new paper in Emerging Infectious Diseases: Transmission of Influenza on International Flights, May 2009 which basically examines transmission dynamics of flu within places. They examine whether proximity to an infected person on the plane affects probability of becoming infected. They report
“The closer you are to an infectious person, the higher your chances of becoming infected yourself,” said study researcher Paul Kelly, an epidemiologist at Australian National University in Canberra. “This is especially the case on long-haul flights,” those lasting more than four hours.”
Clearly, understanding the movement and dynamics of microbes in planes is important for controlling the spread of infectious diseases. Many other infections can be spread inside planes too and we know very little about the ecology of microbes in planes.