Er, probably not.
Unless it’s an actual person who is infected.
But the actual virus, lurking in the cabin from an earlier flight? Hopefully not, though it’s getting to be a headache for the airlines.
You see, when you’re up there at 36,000 feet, you really are pretty safe. That air you’re breathing is totally refreshed 20 times an hour. Better still, it’s filtered and purified.
Running continuously under the floor is a set of hospital grade high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters – very effective at trapping microscopic particles like viruses and bacteria.
Because don’t believe that myth about aeroplane flu. If you get the sniffles, it’s more likely that the air is cold and dry – so that’s your mucous membranes compensating.
So it’s not around while you’re flying.
Different on the ground though, when the aircraft powers down and the aircon goes off. That air is from exiting passengers. As your nose can sometimes tell you – if the turnaround’s a quick one and somebody forgets the air freshener.
And yes, you’re quite right – an air freshener won’t stop Ebola.
But hydrogen peroxide will.
Misted up so it fills the cabin, it takes out bacteria and viruses by oxidising them. They can’t survive the extra oxygen atoms, so their cell structure disintegrates. Bye, bye bad guys like Ebola.
Because it’s not just in the air that the hydrogen peroxide works. It settles on the seat backs, cushions, grab handles and tray tables. Zaps any germs that might be sitting there too.
Right now though, there aren’t too many airlines using the stuff. They’ve never needed to – and any vapour generating systems they might know about are big and clunky – massive trucks, manoeuvring on the ground. Not cheap or quick, either.
That may change real soon. Especially if health authorities start putting aircraft in quarantine. And not just parking in a remote part of the airport either – a complete lockdown for however long it takes.
Forty days that used to mean, when the word was first used back in the Fourteenth Century. From the Italian quaranta giorni – the time a ship would be isolated to prevent the spread of Black Death – a nightmare twice as deadly as Ebola will ever be.
But what airline can afford a fleet of multi-million pound Boeings, sitting going nowhere?
Especially when a couple of cans of aerosol ammonium chloride can do an emergency mist up in around half an hour?
Or a hospital-type auto-robot can be hauled aboard to do the same thing with IONISED hydrogen peroxide? Ten times more efficient than the vapour job – and done in half an hour at a cost of around a tenner.
A couple more scares and what’s not to like?
99.9999% germ reduction. No more Ebola. Gone.
So no, that’s not Ebola sitting next to you. Or MRSA, c. difficile, HIV, bird flu, norovirus – or any one of possibly thousands of bio-nasties.
More likely it’s the start of an on-board romance. Or a business deal. Or that well-deserved holiday that you owe yourself.
Enjoy the flight.
Originally posted 2014-10-08 12:33:33.