HIAPER research aircraft taking off

Photo courtesy of Julie Haggerty (NCAR)

Communicable Diseases

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 CDCpdf icon.  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

Page last reviewed: May 9, 2017