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Study: H1N1 can spread rapidly during transcontinental air travel

Category: Infectious Diseases

According to a new study, the transmission of H1N1 flu infections can occur quite rapidly and with significant frequency during transcontinental flights.

A report in the current online edition of BMC Medicine indicates that H1N1 can be quickly transmitted among passengers in economy class cabins. Specifically, two to five infections may occur during a five-hour flight, five to 10 during an 11-hour flight and seven to 17 during a 17-hour flight, according to

"Our results imply that one individual traveling by plane, by infecting other travelers on the same flight, could cause multiple simultaneous outbreaks in different geographic locations rather than causing only one outbreak," said study author Bradley Wagner, quoted by

"For that reason, quarantining passengers who travel in economy class on long-haul flights could potentially be an important control strategy this winter, but there is no point quarantining passengers in first class," he added.

Researchers found that economy class passengers are in more danger of contracting H1N1 because of the crowded conditions and the sheer number of people.

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