I blame Michael Jackson.
Scientists have found what they call the first real evidence that restricting air travel can delay the spread of flu -- a finding that could influence government plans for battling the next influenza pandemic. Air travel has long been suspected of playing a role in flu's gradual spread around the globe each year, but yesterday, Boston researchers said they finally have documented it: The drop in air travel after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks seemed to delay that winter's flu season by about two weeks. "This is the first time that a study has been able to show a direct link between the numbers of people traveling and the rate of spread of a virus," said John Brownstein, an epidemiologist at Children's Hospital of Boston, who led the research.
I know the big question after this is "Therefore what? Will it stop the spread or just delay it?" But surely there are other ways to prevent disease without completely disrupting worldwide air travel. How about asking passengers to really wash their hands, stay home if sick, and perhaps wear masks to keep the healthy, healthy. Although I understand the reticence to don a mask, since I've tried wearing my mask to public places; but I can't stand the way people look at me, like *I'm* the one whose infected with something. It never occurs to the general public that the mask is protecting ME from THEM, rather than the other way around. Or worse, they think I'm some kind of germophobe (which I am, but not like how they think) who goes shopping then heads home to her hyperbaric oxygen chamber and pet llama with my surgical mask -- the latest accessory of weirdos. So, I can see how the whole "no hair gel, no toothpaste, mandatory mask" regulation would never fly...
Like I said: worldwide flu pandemic? Blame Michael Jackson.