Monday, October 27, 2014

Ebola: Are You Concerned?



There is so much in the news today about Ebola.  I asked myself, the other day, how concerned am I?
I'm going to be traveling quite a bit this winter, by air, and that is the part that concerns me.  I know so many people who, after flying on an airplane, get sick with different respiratory illnesses.  According to the CDC approximately 20% of all travelers incur an upper respiratory infection and it's the viral pathogen respiratory infection that's the most common.  Here is a list of causative agents:  Thinovirus, respiratory synctial virus, influenza virus, human metapneumovirus, adenovirus and coronavirus. Legionella pneumophila and coxiella burnetii can also cause outbreaks of a respiratory illness.  To make matters worse for us snowbirds the best (or worse?) time of the year to travel is December through February.  In the southern hemisphere the peak flu season is June through August.  If you travel to a tropical zone you are at risk all year.  This is a direct quote from the CDC:

Direct airborne transmission aboard aircraft is unusual because of frequent air recirculation and filtration, although influenza, tuberculosis, and other diseases have resulted from transmission in modern aircraft.  

To make this matter worse certain people, such as the elderly and people with asthma or COPD, are at higher risk for air travel illness. The CDC is telling us if we must travel to practice careful hygiene. Wash our hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. We should avoid contact with blood and body fluids such as urine, saliva, sweat and the like. Which brings me to ask the following question: What if I use the bathroom in the airplane and there is some urine or sweat or semen or vomit or feces anywhere in the loo? Now what? I'm supposed to not go to the bathroom for hours and hours?  

I'm still going to travel to Mexico and within the United States but I would be extremely concerned if I were traveling to Europe. I'm definitely not planning on going anywhere in Africa or Saudi Arabia (3 million Muslims pilgrimage to Hajj in Saudi Arabia from October 2nd to the 7th of every year.)

Are you concerned?  Could it become airborne somehow?  
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