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Friday, May 1, 2009

Passenger intercontinental air travel should be banned because it spreads diseases like H1N1 “swine” flu. Aircraft, the 21st Century virus vector.

biohazard plane

Whatever happens in the unfolding “swine flu” story it has taught humanity a valuable lesson.

Once “swine flu” is consigned to history we can be certain that another virus will come along, perhaps one more deadly than “swine” flu.

Like the current “swine” flu outbreak in Mexico by the time any future new virus can be identified it will be too late to prevent it from spreading round the world. Although Mexico does not have the most sophisticated medical infrastructure the fact remains that it is far superior to the medical services available the the greatest part of the worlds population who live in the developing countries.

In the space of hours aircraft will have spread the virus across the globe. The air conditioning systems in aircraft recycle the cabin air increasing the exposure of passengers to virus. The modern trend is for ever larger planes carrying up to 525 passengers (A380). These planes then land at international hub airports that transfer tens of thousands of passengers a day onto flights to destinations across the world.

Malaria has the mosquito, the plague the flea, the flu has the best vector of all, aircraft.

Do the benefits of international air travel out weigh the certainty that it will be the cause of all future pandemics with the potential of causing millions of deaths?


  1. I think this article makes no sense... Then they should ban schools too, since children spread their viruses there... You can´t stop the world moving...

  2. Schools have been closed recently to prevent the spread of swine flu. Having said that schools and intercontinental air travel have different risk profiles.

    Viruses spread round a school are going to be ones which can be predicted, contained and treated by the local medical authorities.

    Air travel however has the capacity to spread new variants of disease round the globe in hours and before they are fully understood. Which is exactly what happened with swine flu.

    Swine flu seems to be less dangerous than first feared. However we may not be so lucky with the next and inevitable pandemic. However dangerous the next pandemic may or may not be we can be certain that air travel will spread it around the world in hours.