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Don’t fear catching flu on next plane trip

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    A traveler wears a mask for protection from illness at Logan International Airport in Boston in 2009. How likely are you to catch the flu on an airplane? According to a study, not very likely.

How likely are you to catch the flu on an airplane? According to a study, not very likely.

Flu is commonly transmitted by small respiratory droplets expelled when an infected person sneezes, coughs or talks. A passenger could get infected only by being close to a person with the flu, or picking up the virus from something an infected person had touched.

Researchers recorded the movements of passengers on 10 flights that ranged from three to five hours, eight during flu season.

Using this data, they analyzed 1,000 simulated flights based on two situations: a person with the flu sitting in Seat 14C (an aisle seat near the middle of the cabin) and a flight with an infected crew member.

They calculated that the 14 people sitting closest to 14C on either side of the aisle had the highest likelihood of infection. But the risk declined quickly with distance, so that a person sitting in the window seat in Row 16 has almost zero chance of catching the flu.

MARIJUANA USE TIED TO FATAL CAR CRASHES

April 20 has become known as a day to celebrate the pleasures of marijuana consumption with parties that often begin at 4:20 p.m.

But a study in JAMA Internal Medicine has found that the high spirits may have a price: a significant increase in fatal car wrecks after the “4/20” party ends.

Researchers used 25 years of data on car crashes in the United States in which at least one person died. They compared the number of fatal accidents between 4:20 p.m. and midnight on April 20 each year with accidents during the same hours one week before and one week after that date.

Before 4:20 p.m. there was no difference between the number of fatalities on April 20 and the number on the nearby dates. But from 4:20 p.m. to midnight, there was a 12 percent increased risk of a fatal car crash on April 20 compared with the control dates. The increased risk was particularly large in drivers 20 and younger.

“These crashes really don’t have to happen,” said the senior author, Dr. Donald A. Redelmeier, a professor of medicine at the University of Toronto.

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