How to keep from catching a cold or the flu when you're on a plane with a sick person

CLEVELAND - Millions of Americans will travel to see family and friends this holiday season. And this time of year, that can also mean a lot of sneezes, coughs and germs on a plane.

Dr. Donald Poretz said, "Your risk level obviously is greater the closer you are to the person who is coughing or sneezing."

Just how close is too close? According to Dr. Poretz, when it comes to the flu, the hot zone is within two or three rows of the passenger who's hacking and sneezing.

"All these droplet nuclei are in the air and you can breathe it in. Past two or three rows it's probably a very, very small chance," said Dr. Poretz.

Travel writer Candyce Stapen says when boarding planes, especially with the family, there are two must-haves: hand-sanitizer, and antibacterial wipes or spray to clean surfaces.

"When you get on the plane spray the tray tables, spray the arms, the seats, everything because when do you think that was last properly cleaned?" Stapen asked.

Touching germ-covered surfaces like arm rests or the door to the lavatory and then touching your mouth can get you sick.

So Stapen's best advice is, "Whether you're washing your hands with soap and water, whether it's antibacterial wipes or sprays, wash your hands as frequently as possible."

And it shouldn't stop when you get to your destination.

If a family member has a cold or the flu, avoid that hug, handshake or kiss and don't share food off of your holiday plate.


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