Education: The Best Virus Defense for International Flight Crews/Passengers
With the Zika outbreak doing its best to extinguish the torch of the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Brazil, we’re reminded that the unpredictability of international business travel extends beyond airspace slots and customs agent mood swings. When it comes to protecting against the possibility of contracting regional/global viruses, bug repellent, long sleeves and mosquito netting will help, but education is your best defense. Here are ten ideas to help keep you and your passengers safe when traveling to virus-prone areas.
- Think Prevention First—Find a trusted travel medicine specialist for flight crews and be ready to help passengers find one as well. Schedule an appointment 4-6 weeks in advance for vaccinations, medications, advisories and other required information. And stay abreast of the prevention efforts at your destination—Are they spraying for mosquitoes, treating water supplies, etc.? Why or why not?
- Be Concerned Every Trip—By the time your favorite news source runs a story on Zika (or Ebola or MERS), it’s too late. Zika is new to most, but it was discovered in 1947 by scientists in the Zika forest of Uganda. While they’re not making headlines, serious viruses abound around the globe. Check out the prevalence of Chikungunya (and its twin Dengue Fever) next time your airplane is headed toward the Caribbean.
- Contact Local Ground Handlers—They’re going to have a local, and oftentimes anecdotal, perspective from the front lines. It’s very valuable. But it must also be filtered and questioned. It’s the rare ground handler who will tell you don’t come. They need your business.
- Don’t Forget Your Airplane—At the time of this post, Italy has joined Australia and New Zealand in requiring all arriving business airplanes have disinsection performed at the airport of origin. Costa Rica and China have initiated less drastic procedures for airplanes arriving from affected countries. No doubt, this will change over time.
- Look Out For You—If you’re part of a larger flight operation, odds are good you have someone who does virus research and provides guidance for each international trip. And, they’re likely very good at it. But they’re not you and likely won’t be with you at your destination. Do your own research for each trip to learn about requirements, preventative measures and risks. It will help you think on your feet.
- Consider the Length and Type of Trip—If you’re in and out in the same day, or staying one night, the odds of contracting a virus are much less than if you’re staying a week. Are you meeting in an office or hotel, or driving into the backcountry? Weigh the time and type of trip you’re taking against the risk of contracting a virus.
- Think Best Not Most—Consider helping cut a passenger list if needed. Could the prevalence of a virus limit the passenger count to just the essential executives? Or, perhaps, younger travelers with bolstered immune systems might be best? With video conferencing capabilities getting better each day, the list of “essential” passengers can be more flexible.
- Use The Time You Have—The evaluation of risk factors based on what is known today is going to look different than the same evaluation two months from now. Start tracking virus outbreak potential the moment you’re aware of a trip and communicate your findings. Watching, studying and gathering data over time will help you make a much more informed decision.
- Curb The Urge to Explore—One of the great things about being a flight crew on layover, or a passenger on vacation, is the ability to explore. But getting off the beaten path can mean getting into areas where key mosquito control defenses are less effective or non-existent. The greater the chance of contracting a virus, the more you and your passengers should stay close to population centers.
- Get a second opinion. And a third. And a fourth.—Here are links to trusted resources you can use to do your initial research, check opinions, and stay up-to-date on the latest virus outbreaks and regulations around the world:
- Outbreak News Today
- Centers for Disease Control (US)
- World Health Organization
- National Business Aviation Association
- European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control
- AIN Online
While the topic of this post is viruses, the underlying message is still safety. We just changed the emphasis from airplanes to mosquitoes. With thousands of clients traveling to hundreds of countries each day, Jeppesen’s International Trip Planning Service (ITPS) has its finger on the pulse of regional and global virus conditions. Whether it’s the headline-stealing viruses of the day, like Zika in Brazil; or the decades-long struggles with diseases like malaria in Africa, Jeppesen works with clients each day to reduce the impact that illnesses might have on crews, passengers or the trip itself. Learn more about Jeppesen’s ITP services, contact your trusted Customer Service representative directly, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (800) 353-2108.