Avoiding the Flu

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Q Planes! Trains! How can I avoid the flu while traveling?

A Crossing paths with the H1N1 flu virus is now nearly inevitable, especially if you spend hours on a plane or train. To boost your chances of staying healthy, try to get the vaccines against both H1N1 and the regular flu at least two weeks before you travel, says Janet Englund, M.D., an expert in pediatric infectious disease with the University of Washington.

Beyond that, avoid touching your nose, mouth, and eyes. Wash your hands often with soap or rub them with alcohol sanitizing gel; take hand wipes or a small bottle of gel with you. Never share utensils and move away from anyone sneezing or coughing.

For trips abroad, consider asking your doctor for a fiveday supply of flu medicine—Relenza or Tamiflu. "If you don't use it, save it for next year," Englund says. Pack a thermometer. If you develop a fever over 100°F plus a sore throat, cough, or other symptom, start the drug within 48 hours, she advises. And don't get on that plane. Check flu.gov for updates and for travel alerts on the region you'll be visiting.

This article was first published in January 2010. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.

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