Avoiding H1N1 While Traveling

Every holiday season, millions of Americans travel through the nation's airports, seaports, and train stations to spend time with loved ones.

Special holiday get-togethers -- and traveling itself -- bring people close together, but also provide an ideal way for illness to spread.

To help travelers avoid the H1N1 flu this holiday season, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has launched its largest-ever public awareness campaign about staying healthy while traveling in general, and steering clear of H1N1 and seasonal flu, in particular.

On "The Early Show" Monday, CBS News Correspondent Medical Correspondent Jennifer Ashton discussed the CDC's tips, and more.

She called the holiday season the perfect storm for germs, with so many people traveling all over the country in such close quarters.

The most important piece of advice; If you feel sick -- stay home.

Wash your hands constantly, and if you sneeze, do it into a tissue or your sleeve, rather than your hands.

More tips: Don't travel if you feel sick. Get vaccinated for flu (both seasonal flu and 2009 H1N1 if they you're in a priority group). Try to stay at least six feet away from anyone showing flu symptoms.

If you're playing the role of holiday host, washing your hands is the most important thing in preventing the spread of germs. Soap or any time of hand sanitizer is great to have handy -- especially with children around -- they often spread germs during the holidays.

Send Dr. Jennifer Ashton your question for "Ask It Early"
Dr. Jennifer Ashton's Twitter page

Special Report: H1N1 Virus

Keeping Your Celebration Safe from H1N1:

Large gatherings, such as those that are common for Thanksgiving, are the perfect time for the H1N1 virus to spread. Help prevent symptoms of H1N1 infection in yourself and others by following these simple tips:

Avoid kisses and handshakes to greet friends and family; it may seem distant, but they won't thank you if they get sick.

If someone in the household comes down with swine flu symptoms, keep them isolated in a separate area for care; if that isn't possible, see about having the Thanksgiving dinner in another location.

Wash your hands frequently throughout the preparation and cooking of food, and especially before eating.

Stock bathrooms with plenty of soap -- best in a pump bottle -- and disposable hand towels/paper towels for drying.

Use plastic cups, or make sure glasses can be individually identified.
Shared cups can be a major source of shared germs.

Be sure there are serving utensils in every dish, even snacks such as nuts or pretzels, and dishes guests can put them on, to avoid touching food other people will eat.

Overall though, there's no question that the No. 1 priority is -- if you feel sick -- stay home. Otherwise, hand-washing for at least 20 seconds can be key in preventing the spread of germs. If someone in your family does become ill from the flu, keep your distance from them and possibly try to isolate them from other members of the family, particularly those in high risk groups.
  • CBSNews

Comments