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How easy is it to get sick on a plane?

You may already take precautions to avoid catching something from a fellow passenger whenever you fly, such as washing your hands frequently or packing antibacterial wipes and a protective mask in your carry-on luggage. Exactly how common is it to catch a flu or other illness on an airplane, you and other New York residents may wonder?

The answer may surprise you. According to, a professor of biostatistics and bioinformatics has said illnesses are not spread through recirculated airplane air as much as people have been led to believe. However, that does not mean you will avoid getting sick if other passengers are suffering from a bug. It is relatively easy to catch an airborne virus from the person sitting next to you or from the airline attendants serving each passenger. You may also pick up an illness by touching hand rests, walls and other surfaces inside the plane that sick passengers have touched.

Norovirus is one of the most common illnesses that are easily spread throughout a plane. As you may know, norovirus is a virus that causes vomiting and diarrhea. In one example, more than 20 people who were passengers on one flight came down with a stomach virus that doctors believe happened on the flight.

Easily communicable illnesses can be especially dangerous for those who are immunity-compromised. If an airline or employees are determined to be negligent in preventing the spread of an illness or knowingly allowing someone with a dangerous contagious disease, such as the Ebola virus, to fly and you and others get sick, the airline may be held liable.

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