Special to CNN
The novel swine flu is showing the world just how interconnected we are and how commercial aircraft can serve as vehicles of rapid disease spread.
I am frequently asked: What is the risk of catching an illness while flying?
In a nutshell, the risk of getting an infection while you're in an enclosed space such as an airplane depends upon three factors: The infectiousness of the contagious person spreading the illness; the degree of your exposure (how close you are to the contagious person and for how long); and the ventilation of the space or passenger cabin.
We really have no control over the infectiousness of our fellow passengers, and usually, you really don't have much of a choice about your seating partners. So the exposure is pure chance.
But this doesn't mean that you are doomed. Most respiratory viral infectious diseases - like influenza and the common cold - transmit via droplets contaminated with the offending microorganism when the infectious person coughs or sneezes.
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