AIRCREW SAFETY & HEALTH
What you need to know
Communicable diseases are illnesses that spread from one person to another or from an animal to a person. Some of the ways they may spread are through:
- direct contact with a sick person
- breathing in airborne viruses and bacteria
- contact with blood and other body fluids
- contact with a contaminated surface or object
- bites from insects or animals that can transmit the disease
Aircrew may be exposed to communicable diseases from sick travelers. Here you can learn more about some communicable diseases that may be spread to crewmembers from passengers, what to do when there is a sick passenger on the plane, and ways to keep yourself healthy.
Why might aircrew be concerned about communicable diseases?
Communicable diseases may be spread to crewmembers or to other travelers during air travel due to close proximity to sick crew members or passengers. Crewmembers may be exposed to communicable diseases that are not common in the United States during flights with international travelers and layovers in other countries.
What can be done to manage sick passengers and crew?
CDC has developed guidance for airlines for managing sick passengers/crew and reporting deaths and certain illnesses to CDC. Specific guidance is available for several diseases. Some of these diseases are rare, but of concern because they can be serious.
When specific recommendations aren’t available, follow the routine infection control guidelines for cabin crew to protect yourself and others from communicable diseases while you are working.
For more information
- CDC: Death and disease reporting tool for cabin crew
- CDC: Death and disease reporting tool for pilots
- CDC: Quarantine and isolation – Airline Guidance for Managing Ill Passengers/Crew (Airline guidance for Ebola, Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), Avian Influenza A (H7N9), Measles, Seasonal Influenza, Cholera, and general infection control guidelines)
- Tuberculosis (TB):
- CDC: Exposure of Passengers and Flight Crew to Mycobacterium tuberculosis on Commercial Aircraft, 1992-1995
- CDC: Infectious Diseases Related To Travel: Tuberculosis
- CDC: Transmission of Multidrug-Resistant Mycobacterium Tuberculosis During A Long Airplane Flight
- CDC: Tuberculosis
- CDC: Tuberculosis Information for International Travelers
- World Health Organization: Tuberculosis and Air Travel: Guidelines for Prevention and Control, 3rd Edition
- If you have safety and health questions about your job contact us
- Page last reviewed: May 9, 2017
- Page last updated: May 9, 2017
- Content source:
- National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Division of Surveillance, Hazard Evaluations and Field Studies