The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that cases of the flu in the new year is once again on the rise. A minimum of 19 million cases have been reported in the US for this flu season. But short of living in a bubble, what can we do to avoid getting sick? We're all exposed to other people everyday, whether riding a crowded BART train, or flying in a tightly spaced seat in coach.
What do the experts say is the best way to protect yourself?
The CDC recommends washing your hands with soap and water often. Washing for 20 seconds or longer in optimum. This one simple step is the single most effective infection control measure.
It's suggested you travel with alcohol-based hand sanitizers as a backup. When soap and water aren't available, whip out the hand sanitizer.
Also, realize flight crews don't have time to clean everything on board in between flights. This is especially true with the quick turnaround time on many of a short-haul flight. So, use sanitary wipes to clean the arm rests and the tray tables especially.
Keep the air vents open, but pointed away from you, according to a travel analyst at San Francisco's Atmosphere Research.
Studies also indicate the window seat is the safest to avoid airborne viruses, but if you're seated within three feet of a person who's contagious, you're in the danger zone.
You also may want to opt for wearing a face mask. And, there's no shame in asking to be relocated if you find you've been seated next to someone who is obviously ill.
Finally, out of consideration to others, don't fly if you're sick. Buy trip insurance and use it should you fall ill before your flight.