Is Masking Useful While Traveling
Respiratory infections are a leading cause of seeking medical care among returning travelers from abroad. Common respiratory infections include measles, influenza, and coronaviruses that cause the common cold.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently reconfirmed masking is a critical public health tool for preventing the spread of respiratory diseases.
When people correctly wear a high-quality mask, they trap fluid droplets and help keep travel safer for everyone.
Wearing a mask during travel can also help protect others who cannot avoid being in crowded places when they are traveling.
Moreover, some of these people might be more vulnerable, like infants, seniors, or those with a weakened immune system, wrote the CDC on May 12, 2023.
Wearing a high-quality face mask is most beneficial when:
- Traveling in crowded with poor ventilation, like airport jetways, airplanes when the ventilation system is off.
- When in close-contact situations like on a train or bus.
- When your travel destination has a disease outbreak.
- Or if you were exposed to a person with an infectious disease such as tuberculosis in the last ten days.
A seldom discussed highly contagious disease is measles.
About 90% of unprotected people will become infected when exposed to the measles virus during a long flight.
That's one reason the CDC reissued its global advisory on measles outbreaks in 2023.
The CDC published a global Watch-Level 1, Practice Usual Precautions notice on April 6, 2023, regarding measles outbreaks in Africa, Afghanistan, India (68,473 cases), and Nigeria.
Even Kentucky and Ohio were measles hot-spots over the past year.
While plenty of pro-con research focuses on wearing a face mask during the recent pandemic, most travelers make the best decision for themselves when heading to a flight.