Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Germ tube in the sky

Tomorrow morning I am leaving for a well-deserved vacation to...wait for it...wait for it...Hawaii. Kauai to be exact. I am very excited, as this is my first time to visit this portion of the globe. I just hope that when I get there I'm contagion-free.

It's my understanding that, statistically speaking, you are no more likely to get sick on a plane than when you are in close contact with a large group of people in some other situation. I find this difficult to accept. My problem is that the air is recycled. I know this happens in building as well, but normally you don't sit around with 100 people in the same small space for eight hours. I'm sure they have some kick-ass HEPA-type filters, but I don't know if these yahoos are changing them on time or installing them properly. I do know that HEPA filters are damn expensive and I also know that airlines aren't exactly rolling in the dough.* I've never gotten sick after a long plane ride, but n=1 is not a reliable sample size and rules of logic dictate you should not assume your personal experience represents the norm.

Each time someone starts hacking up a lung, sneezing or making frequent trips to the bathroom, I am sure I'm getting inoculated with something viral or microbial. I feel the urge to bust out a mask and fly in SARS style. This is probably not a good idea though, since I'd probably scare the shit out of everyone else on the plane, and I'm already going to make people in my immediate vicinity uncomfortable enough when I bust out my breast pump.** At least the type of plane we are flying in allows me and my husband to occupy two seats together in a row consisting of only two seats. That means that I don't have to worry about sharing a row with some Ebola-riddled freak or get in that pesky fight over the arm rest.
I know I'm being a little ridiculous. It's not like I'm boarding a cruise ship, which actually does seem like a floating petri dish. And yeah, I do not have a burning desire to cruise on a ship anywhere. If pressed to go, a mask would definitely be the order of the day.

I'll write a full report and post some pics when I get back next week unless I download the iPhone blogger app, in which case I might post some pics throughout my vacay. :)

*I'm not making any claims about airline air filter upkeep and maintenance.
**So not looking forward to this.


chall said...

hey, just remember how many germs are airborne...and contagious in smaller doses (like less than one). Not many.

(you see, this is how I work out with the whole "recycled air" as a fellow microbiologist ;)"

Hope you have a great time. At least I'm envious of going to Hawaii... I WANT to go too :) Enjoy!'

ps. is baby going with you?

Anonymous said...

We went to Kauai on our honeymoon, and the flight sucked (bad seats, headphone jack broken, right by the stinky toilet), but it was sooooooo worth it when we got there. You'll enjoy it so much, and you'll sleep the whole way back. Enjoy!!!!

ScientistMother said...

have fun!!!

EcoGeoFemme said...

When I went on a cruise earlier this year, they were constantly spraying us with hand sanitizer. You couldn't enter a restaurant or get back on the ship after port stops without someone spraying you, plus they had them all over the place on the ship. Not sure how effective it is, but I didn't get sick. And sure n=1, but when that n is me, it's gotta be representative. I mean, everybody is just like me, right? :)

Anyway, have a fantastic trip!

tideliar said...

Hooray! Hope you'e having fun!