Stay Healthy While You Travel With Basic Safety Precautions, Internet Tools

Healthy travel is something not talked about much until travelers get sick. Flying commercial airlines, passing through airports or even taking a cab to a hotel in a big city, domestic travelers have the potential to be subjected to a variety of germs. But some basic precautions can reduce your chances of getting sick.

Common sense healthy travel precautions like washing hands frequently, keeping hands away from eyes and face and having a flu shot can help. Being sure to get plenty of rest, water and nutrition can help too. Taking advantage of some online tools can add an extra barrier of protection as well.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has online travel help with their Guide to Safe and Healthy Travel that encourages travelers to be “Proactive, Prepared and Protected when it comes to your health – and the health of others – while you are traveling.” The CDC says learning about your destination, seeing a doctor and considering any health issues before traveling is critical.

Having a travel health kit with remedies for possible illnesses like colds or flu along for the ride is not a bad idea either, especially when traveling to an unfamiliar area. Including bandages, gauze, antiseptic, tweezers, scissors and cotton-tipped applicators can come in handy too.

Thinking of international travel, we can add insect-borne diseases, a threat that received little attention until recently. Now, a new website called the Vector-Borne Disease Airline Importation Risk Tool (VBD-Air) tracks mosquito-borne diseases spread globally by air travel, offering international travelers a source to check possible health risks before flying.

The tool promises those concerned about healthy travel a better definition of airport and airline roles in the transmission and spread of insect‐borne human diseases. Designed from travel data and research done at the University of Florida, Gainesville, the tool asks users to enter an airport, select a disease (currently Dengue, Malaria, Yellow Fever or Chikungunya) and an airport to produce a map

“The researchers note that the global air-travel network has likewise contributed to the spread of serious and deadly diseases including influenza and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) which are not spread by mosquitoes,” says Larry Greenemeier, associate editor in Scientific American.

The VBD program hopes to be able to identify passengers arriving at any given airport who may need additional screening before being admitted to a country. The data could also be used to warn travelers of areas in the world to avoid.

Even if not planning international travel, with cold and flu season right around the corner, some basic precautions can help travelers avoid picking up an illness along the way. It’s not a souvenir anyone wants to bring home.

[Flickr photo by Wootang01]

Passengers protest peanuts, prefer pretzels

Blame Northwest. Or, blame the merger with Delta. Either way, peanuts are back, and some passengers are pissed.

On February 1, Northwest began dishing out peanuts on flights, which Delta has been doing since dirt was new. The timing isn’t all that hot, given a national salmonella outbreak involving Peanut Corporation of America. And then there are the people who are allergic to peanuts … they’re also far from thrilled with the change.

A commenter on the Star Tribune website (local to Minneapolis, where NWA is headquartered) wrote, “Northwest is really out of touch with its customers and the reality of allergies to peanuts.” Another chimed in, “What’s wrong with pretzels?”

Indeed, what is wrong with pretzels?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 3 million people in the United States are allergic to peanuts (or tree nuts). Food allergies cause 30,000 cases of anaphylaxis, 2,000 hospitalizations and 150 deaths every year. On its own, this sucks. On a plane, it’s worse than sitting next to a fat person.

Delta is doing what it can to prevent an in-flight disaster, creating a “buffer zone” of three rows in front of and behind a peanut-allergic person’s seat. And, the airline is advising “cabin service to board additional nonpeanut snacks.” So, flight attendants who are busy with such trivial matters as keeping order on the plane and tending to broader safety issues will have to keep track of the “peanut zone,” as well.

[Via CNN]

What strange things have been found on planes?