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Swine Flu Loves a Crowd
Date:9/17/2009

making you more vulnerable to infection, Blumberg said.

The added problem in jails and prisons is that stepped-up hygiene needs to be balanced with safety and, in some cases, could actually compromise safety, Blumberg said. For example, "alcohol-based hand gels can be dangerous in that environment," he said.

Budget cuts may even be contributing to a hygiene crisis. The current fiscal problems plaguing California affect all school facilities, including those related to hygiene, Blumberg said.

"The people involved may not be quite as interested in disease prevention compliance as they are with other things, but that doesn't make it any less important," Moore said.

The first line of protection is what experts call "respiratory etiquette." Coughing and sneezing into your elbow or handkerchief doesn't require any special facilities. And, as often as you can, wash your hands or cleanse them with hand foam or alcohol gel. "You may also want to wipe down surfaces that you are in frequent contact with, like door knobs," Beeber said.

These are also messages the airline and cruise-ship industry are emphasizing more than usual right now, although, for the most part, it's business as usual for travelers.

According to Erik Elvejord, a spokesman for Holland America Line, based in Seattle, the cruise ship industry is already bound by strict public health standards, including not letting sick passengers board a ship and isolating sick passengers who are already on board. Ships do have some flu-testing equipment on board as well as antivirals, he said. Passengers also receive notes on their pillow reminding them to wash their hands, and containers of hand sanitizer are placed all around the ships, although these measures are not new, Elvejord added. "We've kind of been doing what we've been doing all along," he said.

Although one passenger on a recent commercial airline flight was told by the flight crew that blank
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