By plane, people sitting next to the corridor are more likely to catch the flu than other passengers, according to a new study.
Researchers at Emory University and the Georgia Institute of Technology have identified routes through which viruses are transmitted by plane.
"With more than 3 billion air passengers each year, the transmission of infectious diseases during flights is a major public health problem," says Vicki Stover Hertzberg, one of the authors of the study published in the journal PNAS.
Window or hallway
Passenger and crew movements were screened for five return flights. All destinations were different. 229 air and surface samples were taken.
As a result, "about 40% of passengers never leave their seats, 40% get up once during the flight and 20% get up twice or more," says Vicki Stover Hertzberg, knowing that people sitting at the edge of the corridor are more willing to rise than those sitting at the edge of the window.
80% of the passengers sitting near the aisle got up during the five flights, compared to 60% of the passengers sitting in the intermediate seats and 40% of the passengers sitting on the seats near the windows. The latter are therefore less likely to contract an infectious disease such as influenza, which is transmitted in particular via seat belt buckles, toilet door handles and contact with the crew members. "An infectious crew member will contaminate 4.6 passengers," says the study.
One meter away
In addition, researchers have shown that the risk of transmission of infectious disease is close to zero past one meter distance with the carrier of the virus. Only passengers seated one row in front, one row behind or on the same row as the patient are likely to contract his virus. A change of place, if it is possible, will then be justified and welcome.
Researchers also recommend disinfecting their hands after they have been in contact with a risk area, such as the shelf on the seat in front of the passengers, and keep them away from the eyes and nose. In order to minimize any risk of infection, the risk areas identified by the study should be cleaned with wet wipes.
A previous study had already shown that commercial airlines provided an environment conducive to the spread of pathogens.