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2017 | 76 | 123-135
Article title

Air transport and the spread of infectious diseases

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Dynamically growing number of airline passengers and flights, especially intercontinental ones, is a key factor conducive to the spread of infectious diseases. The threat to public health may be even more noticeable if it is taken into account, that the developing countries record larger increase in air traffic than most European high developed states with good sanitary conditions. The aim of the study is to make a review of the literature concerning risk assessment and ways to prevent transmission of infectious diseases aboard civil aircrafts. Airline-associated spread of infectious diseases can refer to airborne and vector-borne diseases, as well as these transmitted by fecal-oral route. The particular danger of rapid spread of a disease through airline passengers is caused by influenza virus strains with the potential for causing pandemics or coronaviruses that are infectious agents of MERS and SARS. Passengers suffering from active tuberculosis are also a reason of a serious epidemiological concern. Also other airborne diseases like measles can be easily transmitted by air transport when travelling from endemic countries. On the other hand, flight-related food poisonings are less and less frequent – the most common cause are still bacteria of the Salmonella genus. Among vector-borne diseases, particular attention is paid to the problem of possible transfer of mosquitoes infected with West Nile Virus. In the prevention of the spread of communicable diseases via air transport, there are important factors such as: efficient identifying of sick travellers and crew members, use of personal protective equipment (such as masks with HEPA filter) by passengers travelling alongside sick person, efficient ventilation inside the passenger cabin, proper disinfection of aircrafts' interiors, vaccination of cabin crews against influenza and proper preparation and handling of catering provided to aircrafts.
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