This is the unhealthiest seat you can choose on a plane

Hideyuki KAMON, Flickr

As the World Health Organization deliberates over the decision to classify the coronavirus epidemic as an international public health crisis, Americans remain on high-alert, especially those planning on leaving the country in the near future.

Thankfully Professor Howard Weiss, of Pennsylvania State University and Vicki Hertzberg, of Emory University recently revealed some salient tips on how we can help reduce the spread of respiratory infections while traveling out of the country and even on our own turf.

Simply put, passengers occupying window seats evidence the lowest likelihood of coming into contact with an infected passenger. Although the WHO recognizes anyone within two rows of an affected person as a potential contraction risk the majority of transmissions occur within one row of the carrier. All in all rows except the one seating infected persons pose relatively low transmission risks.

Not very much is known about the coronavirus but medical officials appear to be advising on the assumption that its pathology is similar to other common respiratory infections like influenza for instance.

“If you’re seated in an aisle seat, certainly there will be quite a few people moving past you, but they’ll be moving quickly. In aggregate, what we show is there’s quite a low probability of transmission to any particular passenger, explained Weiss to National Geographic.

Preemptive measures

It’s too early to determine exactly how the coronavirus most effectively gets transmitted. For most respiratory infections the time infected bodies remain on a surface and their approximate distance from carriers poses the biggest influence on the likelihood of contraction.

On balance, these bodies refer to droplets of either mucus or saliva. Dr. Weiss predicts that the coronavirus likely follows a similar pathology which would make his precautions applicable.

Emily Landon, medical director of antimicrobial stewardship and infection control at the University of Chicago Medicine seems to corroborate Weiss’s assessment, positing the general preemptive infectiousness disease rule of thumb: limit exposure by maintaining a distance of at least six feet between you and a potentially contagious person.

“That’s the hope here, that it can be controlled by standard public health measures—because that’s what we’ve got,” Landon says. “With flu, we have vaccines, a couple antivirals. We don’t have those for this coronavirus.”

Recently Ladders covered all the surprising ways infectious bacteria spreads while we’re on the move.  Ultimately the most effective defense is enacted before and after exposure risk via sanitation. Check out our four cleansing considerations tabulated below:

  • Wash all surfaces and really lather up. Get a good scrub in for at least 20 seconds.
  • Use a towel to dry your hands, no air drying.
  • Soap should be used over sanitizer but if that is all there is opt for the sanitizer.
  • As for temperature, it actually doesn’t make a difference.