Aircrew Safety & Health – Communicable Diseases

Asian flight attendants wearing face mask waiting for greeting passengers coming on board in airplane during the Covid pandemic to prevent coronavirus infection. Healthcare in transportation concept.

Aircrew members wearing face masks to minimize direct exposure to sick travelers with respiratory symptoms.
Photo by © Kiwis iStock/Getty Images

Communicable Diseases

What Aircrew and Aircrew Employers need to know

Communicable diseases are illnesses that spread from one person to another or from an animal to a person, or from a surface or a food. Diseases can be transmitted during air travel through:

  • direct contact with a sick person
  • respiratory droplet spread from a sick person sneezing or coughing
  • contact with blood or other body fluids
  • breathing in viruses or bacteria in the air
  • contact with a contaminated surface or object
  • bites from insects or animals that can transmit the disease
  • ingestion of contaminated food or water

Aircrew may be exposed to communicable diseases from sick travelers and co-workers. This page provides information on:

  •  Some communicable diseases that may be spread among crewmembers and to crewmembers from passengers
  •  What to do when there is a sick passenger or crew on the plane
  •  Ways to keep aircrew healthy.

Why might aircrew be concerned about communicable diseases?

Communicable diseases may be spread to crewmembers or to passengers during air travel due to close proximity. Crewmembers may be exposed to communicable diseases during flights with air travelers and layovers in airports.

What can be done to manage sick passengers and crew?

CDC has developed guidance for airlines for managing ill 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, aircrew should follow the routine infection control guidance for cabin crew and consult with their employer’s occupational health program to protect themselves and others from communicable diseases while they are working.

For more information

General Aircrew Travel Health:

General Infection Prevention and Disease Reporting:

COVID-19:

Monkeypox:

Tuberculosis (TB):

 

  • Aircrew can contact NIOSH with any safety and health questions about their job.

 

Page last reviewed: August 13, 2022