Swine Flu and Traveling

By this time practically everyone knows someone who has had the H1N1 virus. Question is: are you more likely to catch the bug when traveling, particularly in close quarters on an airplane or on a cruise ship? Logic would indicate

Cover It Up!

Cover It Up!

that is the case.

What do you do when you are seated near someone hacking and sneezing on a plane? In general we are far too courteous to speak up and try and have the person moved or removed but maybe that is what we should do. Would a flight attendant help out? Any FAs out there care to comment about their airline’s policy on removing obviously sick people?

Unprotected Cruise Buffet

Poorly Protected Cruise Buffet

Cruise ships are a whole different issue. Buffet lines are standard on any ship, with food exposed to everyone’s sneezes and coughs, spoon handles accumulating dirty hand germs and kitchen employees who may or may not be exercising the best of personal and kitchen hygiene. Some cruise lines are manning their buffets with personnel so that there is a much reduced chance of airborne germs and germ laden hands coming into contact with food and utensils.

Every cruise line I have sailed since the novo virus scares has the antibacterial gel at the entry to dining rooms and buffet lines. Some cruise lines place personnel next to the gel and practically tackle you if you try to pass up the gel squirter, kind of like a bouncer. Make certain that your gel has at least 60% alcohol or it won’t do the job.

What do you do to protect yourself? It depends on your level of paranoia. My level is high so I go to the extreme. I leave home with antibacterial gel in my carry on and a refill in my suitcase. For flying I use Nozin, an orange scented liquid put on a swab then rubbed around the edge of your nostrils. I don’t know if it works or not. I haven’t ever gotten sick when I did use it for what that is worth. Others use Airborne. Some people take antibacterial wipes and wipe down their armrests and tray table. That makes a lot of sense. When do you think they were last disinfected? The same philosophy should be engaged in a hotel room and cruise cabin particularly with door handles, toilet handles, faucets, telephones and TV remotes.  Don’t use any communal pens – carry your own. Keep your hands off counters and desks. Wipe down the communal computer keyboard with wipes. Wash your hands diligently after visiting the casino.Purel

Don’t touch door handles with your bare hands after you wash them. Use a paper towel or your elbow. Keep your hands far away from your mouth, nose and eyes. Sneeze into the crook of your elbow. Keep tissues handy also. Wash hands or use a squirt of gel after blowing your nose.

What to do if you start feeling flu symptoms and you are away from home? Hopefully, your doctor will have pity on you and give you and each traveler a prescription for Tamiflu or other anti-viral medication. If you start feeling sick, quarantine yourself the best way possible. Do your fellow travelers a favor and do not fly when sick. Stay in your hotel room or your cabin, call off the maid or cabin steward for their own safety, have meals delivered to your room or cabin and be doubly cautious within your confines when you touch anything that could spread it to your traveling companion. Drink a lot of fluid and take something for your temperature to stay more comfortable.

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