Flu On A Plane? 10 Passengers On Emirates Flight Have Tested Positive
Some of the first class seating on Emirates double-decker airplanes is pretty sick, as in cool and awesome. But the Emirates Flight 203 that landed Wednesday morning at John F. Kennedy Airport in New York City was sick in a different way. During the Dubai to New York City flight, a number of passengers and crew members began having flu-like symptoms such as coughing, headaches, sore throats, and fevers. Therefore, once the double-decker Airbus 380 reached its destination the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) quarantined the passengers and the crew. According to this CBS New York news segment, 10 of the passengers who were subsequently hospitalized have since tested positive for the flu:
So, flu could be the culprit but the passengers are still undergoing tests for other microbes and diseases.
The flight included 519 passengers and one Vanilla Ice. Yes, that Vanilla Ice, otherwise known as Robert van Winkle.
Yo, VIP. Here’s his tweet from the plane:
So I just landed from Dubai and now there is like tons of ambulances and fire trucks and police all over the place pic.twitter.com/i9QLh6WyJW
— Vanilla Ice (@vanillaice) September 5, 2018
Wait, you may say, how can a flu outbreak occur when flu season in the U.S. typically doesn’t start earlier than October? Remember, this was an international flight. While in the Northern Hemisphere the flu season starts and ends somewhere between October and May, the Southern Hemisphere is completely flipped around. Flu season can go from April to September. Moreover, in tropical regions, flu can occur anytime.
If the typical flu virus turns out to be the culprit, the people who got sick on the flight may have become infected before the flight. Usually the incubation period for influenza is between 1 and 4 days with an average of 2 days.
With the typical delay between getting infected with the flu virus and demonstrating symptoms, more passengers and crew members may start getting sick over the next few days if infleunza is at fault. Crowding people in tight quarters where they are touching the same things such as bathroom sinks, trays, and seats can facilitate transmission of the virus. That’s why a study published in PNAS suggested that you should choose a window seat and not move from your seat if you want to reduce your chances of getting the flu on airplane. Of course, this could increase your risk of a blood clot or mean that you pee and poop in your pants. Decision. Decisions.
Stay tuned to see if any other pathogens besides the influenza virus were at work on the plane. Health officials will use testing as well as following what happens to those passengers and crew who haven’t become sick yet to determine the cause. So for now for many who were aboard the plane, the quarantine may continue: it’s ice, ice baby.