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Flying With The Flu - 51 Percent Americans Say They Would

Posted by Jane Akre
Monday, November 23, 2009 1:23 PM EST
Category: On The Road
Tags: Swine Flu, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, H1N1, Influenza, Public Health, Airborne Disease, Virus

More than half of Americans say they would fly sick with the swine flu because of the high penalties imposed by airlines.

Flying Sick 

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IMAGE SOURCE: Wikimedia Commons/ Copenhagen Airport/ author: Jnpet

Thanksgiving is one of the busiest travel times of the year and no place seems as worrisome as the small contained area of an airline cabin, where hundreds of fellow travelers share the same space and breathe the same air, some of which contains airborne viruses.

"When people come together, germs can come together too," said Dr. Anne Schuchat, director of the CDC's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases.

Would you fly if you were sick?

Maybe you wouldn’t but 51 percent of Americans say they would fly with the flu rather than pay for a flight not taken or a heavy penalty, according to a poll by TripAdvisor.com.

Families face huge penalties, like the one featured in the Airline Biz blog of the Dallas Morning News.

Their six-year-old became sick with the flu days before a family vacation on American Airlines. A cancellation fee of $150 per ticket would be imposed, even though the father argued for a medical waiver. That’s the price of lower far tickets, says the airline.

“They are almost forcing people to fly when they have the swine flu, therefore subjecting others to the flu,” reports CNN quoting the father.

USAir’s policy also charges change fees to nonrefundable tickets.

Delta says it will work with the family with someone who is ill providing they have a doctor’s note. The family can be rescheduled without a fee.

Dr. Stephanie Haridopolos, a family practitioner in Melbourne, Florida believes airlines should temporarily waive cancellation fees for H1N1-infected passengers who have a doctor's note.

"The current policies force people to choose their pocketbook versus their health," she said to CNN.

Travel Advisory

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends if you have a fever and a cough to avoid traveling until 24 hours after a fever has broken. While traveling, make sure you wash your hands often, and cover coughs and sneezes.

Due to the swine flu outbreak internationally, airport staff in some countries, including Japan and China, may check the health of arriving passengers.

You may be asked to pass through a scanner that checks your temperature or have your temperature taken with an oral or ear thermometer. Even quarantine is possible if you are sick, and the U.S. Department of State says it has no authority over what another country does.

The CDC reports that during the week of November 8-14, influenza decreased across all key indicators but overall remains high for this time of year. #


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