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Communicable diseases

Communicable diseases
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Is it okay to fly when you have an infectious disease?

Falling ill while on vacation can make traveling uncomfortable. And there are some diseases that may put your fellow passengers at risk. Here’s what to do if you think you have an infectious disease and you’re due to fly.

What diseases do airlines consider infectious?

Many airlines have guidance for passengers with an infectious disease. Communicable diseases that may affect your ability to fly include:

  • chickenpox and shingles
  • cholera
  • covid-19
  • hepatitis A
  • measles
  • mumps
  • tuberculosis
  • flu
  • yellow fever
  • meningococcal meningitis

Many airlines will have a passenger medical clearance unit that you can call to get information about whether or not you’ll need a fit-to-fly letter and when it is safe for you to fly. In some cases (for example, with cholera) you’ll also need to check that the public health authority at your destination agrees that you’re fit to travel. Otherwise, you may be turned away at immigration control.

What will happen if I arrive at the airport with an infectious disease?

You may be turned away from your flight if staff think you have an infectious disease. Even if you are allowed to fly, if you are unwell with a contagious disease, you are putting other passengers, particularly the elderly, babies and people with weakened immune systems, at risk by forcing them to share a confined space with you.

What should I do if I think I have an infectious disease and I am due to fly?

If it’s close to your departure date and you suspect you have an infectious disease, consult a healthcare professional. They can give you advice on treatment and self-care when you have an infectious disease, and tell you when it’s safe for you to fly. A doctor can also provide a fit-to-fly letter if that is needed by your airline when you are recovering from a contagious illness. And a healthcare professional can provide any letters your airline requires for you to change your travel plans when you are unwell.

How do I avoid infectious diseases while traveling?

Six to eight weeks before you travel, make an appointment with a travel health nurse. They can give advice that will help you reduce the risk of getting sick while traveling. At your travel health appointment with GTC, we can also help you organize a schedule of vaccines against some common infectious diseases that impact travelers. These include:

The travel health nurse will also provide advice on how to avoid common food- and water-borne diseases, as well as those carried by insects and mosquitos.

We can also help with any covid-19 testing that you need before your flight. We have plenty of appointments for covid tests so it is quick and easy to check your covid status, and get a certificate of negative covid test result if you need that to fly or to enter your destination country. You’ll get your covid test result from Global Travel Clinics within 24 hours.

We have travel health centers in Texas and DC, so visit our clinics page to find a branch of Global Travel Clinics near you.