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Flying flu-free: avoiding the flu bug on a plane

Posted at 6:39 PM, Jan 19, 2018
and last updated 2018-01-19 18:39:33-05

One of the worst flu seasons in recent memory is happening throughout the country - and it's hitting Southwest Florida so hard that Lee Health is restricting children from visiting its hospitals until further notice. But what about avoiding the flu bug when you're on a plane? Some travelers at Southwest Florida International Airport shared their tips on how they try to stay flu-free when they fly.

"The first thing I do is get a flu shot every year," said Alexandra Harrison, of Calgary, Alberta. "The second thing I do is, I travel with wipes so that I can wipe down my chair table and arm rests."

Health experts at agree, advising that airline passengers clean arm rests and tray tables with disinfectant wipes. And avoid touching the seat pocket - there's no telling when it was last cleaned.

It's also a good idea to stay hydrated to keep your immune system healthy, but avoid caffeine and alcohol while on board, as it can dehydrate your system.

And consider using a nasal spray so that your sinus passages don't dry out - they help prevent respiratory viruses like the flu.

Bob Dyer of Toronto, Canada said someone once told him of a unique way to avoid germs on a plane - wear a baseball cap. 

"He says germs coming from behind will go over your head," Dyer said. "And with the cap having a little brim, it won't go in your face. Now whether or not that's true, I don't know, but I'm not going to take any chances."

Bill Hammond from Cincinnati said his way of staying flu-free is simple.

"I just think you need to wash your hands and take vitamins," Hammond said. "And try not to get coughed on."

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, the current flu epidemic was caused in part by people spreading the flu virus while traveling over the holidays.