Flying for the holidays? Avoid these things on a plane

GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) It's what we want don't want to hear, especially during the holidays.

"There's a fair amount of what people would associate with the stomach flu going around, the vomiting and diarrhea," says BayCare Clinic, emergency medicine physician Dr. Ryan Murphy.

He says doctors are starting to see an increase in not just colds and coughs, but also the stomach "bug."

Other than staying hydrated and staying home, there isn't a lot doctors can do to treat it for most people.

But, as many get ready to travel for the holidays, doctors shared some tricks to avoid getting sick on planes.

Airplanes will be a popular place the next few weeks, raising the odds that someone who's been sick sat in one of those seats before you.

"Planes present their own unique environment," says Dr. Murphy. "There's a lot of travelers in a confined area, and those planes get turned around very often, so there's not a lot of time to thoroughly clean them."

Guidelines from the World Health Organization detail when and how planes should be cleaned, but those even say if time is an issue, toilets and galleys, where food is prepared, get first priority.

As for the rest of the plane, Dr. Murphy points out where to take caution.

"The other areas that harbor a lot of bacteria are going to be the seat pockets in front of you or the tray tables," he says.

The TSA says you can take small containers of hand sanitizer or anti-bacterial wipes in your carry-on to wipe down those areas.

If you prefer an aisle seat, consider this:

"You have people who are constantly walking up and down the aisles to go to the bathroom or just getting up to move around, so you're in that close proximity," says Dr. Murphy. "Some of the research suggests that if you're sitting within two seats of someone who is sick, you're at higher risk by almost eight percent of catching what they have."

Since the cabin air is filtered, he says you can try turning the vents toward your face to help keep germs away.

But his best advice? You probably already guessed it.

"The biggest thing is doing a lot of hand washing," he adds.