Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Swine Flu (H1N1): Information for Flight Attendants

by B. N. Sullivan

flight attendantYesterday I was speaking with a flight attendant about the current outbreak of Swine Flu (H1N1). "The news is so scary, I don't know what to think," she said. "Should I be afraid to go to work or not?"

"No," I told her. "You needn't be afraid to go to work, but you should learn the facts about the disease, and understand what to do to lessen your chances of becoming infected."

It does seem like the swine flu outbreak came out of nowhere and just exploded onto the scene. There are so many rumors circulating, it's no wonder people are scared. The news media jumped on the story quickly, and although they have reported some factual information, they also have fanned the flames of fear -- sometimes by their choice of words, and sometimes by feeding the rumor mill instead of sticking to known facts.

Don't panic. Mixed in among the mass of rumor and hype, there is some good, solid, reliable information -- you just have to know where to look for it.

Here are some good places to start. (Each of these items will open in a new page or tab when you click.)

Background information about Swine Flu (H1N1)
Travel and Aviation-specific Swine Flu Information

If and when new information from truly reliable sources becomes available, I will add it to this page.

If you are on Twitter, you can keep abreast of new developments by following @CDCemergency. You can also follow the AircrewHealth.com health news Twitter feed @Twellness. No rumors. No hype. Just facts and links to news you need to know in order to make informed health decisions for yourself and those you care about.

UPDATE May 1, 2009: Here is something useful. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has published a document listing 500 Antimicrobial Products Registered for Use Against Influenza A Virus on Hard Surfaces (17-page PDF).

These include disinfectant solutions and foams, as well as single-use wipes. You might want to check it out and see if the ones you use on aircraft, and pack with you to use on your layovers, are on the list. There is a page on the EPA website that explains.