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The risk of getting sick on a plane

(KOMO file photo)

You're on a plane and someone a few rows away starts coughing and sneezing. You sigh ... and tell yourself taht you're going to catch whatever they have. Or will you?

While a contagious passenger can infect others, new research shows that the risk is limited to those sitting very close to them.

Emory University professor Vicki Hertzberg, director of the Center for Data Science, was one of the lead researchers on this study.

"People who are sitting one row in front of, one row behind and two seats to either side of an infectious passenger have the highest risk of becoming infected by them, but people sitting elsewhere in the plane have a very low risk of being infected by that individual,” Hertzberg said.

So how do you reduce your risk of getting sick when you fly?

"I wouldn't worry about the air. I would suggest that people keep their hands clean as much as they can and that they don't touch their face,” she said.

That’s because if your hands pick up germs, from the tray table or arm rests, for example, and you touch your eyes, nose or mouth - you could infect yourself.

One more tip: Professor Hertzberg said to make sure your vaccinations are up to date.

More Info: Sick air travelers mostly likely to infect next row: study

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