December 29, 2003

Holiday Travel & Disease

Traveling to Minneapolis to spend time with Molly's family, I realized why holiday travel may be one of the most dangerous activities we engage in as a culture. It's the potential for disease transmission. Holiday travel brings together three things that individually increase how much airborne diseases get transferred:

  • Population movement. The point is to move around a lot.
  • The cold and flu season. a time when diseases naturally peak.
  • Children. ...with kids, who have developing immune systems, and so are more susceptible to various diseases, thus more likely to be contagious.

Now, this is not to say that holiday travel is a bad thing--I had a very nice time in Minneapolis (where the highs were about what the lows in San Francisco are, but where the buildings are so much better insulated)--but I found it amusing that somehow our world had managed to find a way to bring together three of the most likely disease-causing factors into one. At no other time of the year are all three of these factors true. I wonder what the economic impact of this is. One the one hand, people are spending a ton of dough on presents and plane tickets; on the other, many are going to get sick and be out of work for some period of time after the holiday. How does it balance out?

Posted by mikek at December 29, 2003 05:06 PM | TrackBack
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