Raise your hand if you’re paranoid about catching the flu. My hand is raised, but I’m more worried about my little man catching it than catching it myself. That’s why my wife and I decided to cancel all of Jack’s flights until after flu season. His pediatrician highly recommended he not travel, telling us that every time you get on a plane, the chances of catching the flu increase by 1,000%. Gulp!
I got a flu shot, and I’ve been washing my hands frequently and making a conscious effort not to put my hands and fingers near my face. So far, so good. But since I do have to fly several times this week I decided to spend extra to fly first class so I won’t be near as many passengers. Of course, in the end it’s a crapshoot since I could be sitting closer to a sick passenger in first class.
Anyway, the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services has created an interactive map that shows which states have the most and least cases of influenza-like illness (ILI). The map is updated every week and “uses the proportion of outpatient visits to healthcare providers for influenza-like illness to measure the ILI activity level within a state. It does not, however, measure the extent of geographic spread of flu within a state. Therefore, outbreaks occurring in a single city could cause the state to display high activity levels.”
Elsewhere, WebMD has its own interactive map with which users can enter a city or zip code to find out the cold and flu activity there. If you really want dive deep into flu activity, the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) has an informative U.S. Influenza Surveillance Report here.
On a related note, according to an investigation by an insurance company, the dirtiest places in an airport are:
- Number one: A self-check-in screen. The average screen tested contained 253,857 colony-forming units (CFU)—with one screen having over one million CFU. In comparison, 172 CFU are found on the average toilet seat.
- Number two: The second dirtiest place in an airport is a bench armrest at a gate (averaged 21,630 CFU).
- Number three: A water fountain button, in the third spot, averaged 19,181 CFU.
You can bet that the next time I touch any one of these, I’m going to wipe it down first and wash my hands after.
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