ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Childhood Food Allergies on the Rise
New Spray Could Benefit Cystic Fibrosis Patients
Climate Change Could Sting Allergy, Asthma Sufferers
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Ginkgo No Shield Against Alzheimer's
Yoga May Bring Calm to Breast Cancer Treatment
The Zen Way to Pain Relief
ANIMAL CARE
Separation Anxiety, Canine-Style
Animals Respond to Acupuncture's Healing Touch
Beware of Dog Bites
BONES & JOINTS
Arthritis Hits More Than Half of Diabetics
Tips to Ease an Aching Back
Study Shows Exercise Shields Against Osteoporosis
CANCER
Sharing Cancer Info May Be Empowering
Vitamin C Shows Promise as Cancer Treatment
Immune Therapy May Aid Kids With Neuroblastoma
CAREGIVING
Stressed Health Care Workers Battle 'Compassion Fatigue'
Preventing Shaken Baby Syndrome
Late-Life Fatherhood May Lower Child's Intelligence
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Review Confirms Links Between Diet, Heart Health
Mercury in Fish Linked to High Blood Pressure
Anemia Rates Down for U.S. Women and Children
COSMETIC
Gum Chewing May Cut Craving for Snacks
Contact Lenses Boost Kids' Self-Image
Study Evaluates Laser Therapies for Hair Removal
DENTAL, ORAL
Good Oral Hygiene May Protect Against Heart Infections
Most Insured Adults Worry About Health Care Costs: Poll
Periodontal Disease Impacts Whole Health
DIABETES
Treatment for Type 2 Diabetes Updated
Saliva Test Could Monitor Type 2 Diabetes
'Standard' Glucose Test May Be Wrong One for Obese Children
DIET, NUTRITION
The Food Irradiation Story
TV Food Ads Promote Bad Diets
Teens Lose More Weight Using Healthy Strategies
DISABILITIES
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Air Pollution Exposure May Slow Fetal Growth
Smog Standards Need Tightening, Activists Say
Pilots May Face Greater Cancer Risk
EYE CARE, VISION
Retinal Gene Is Linked to Childhood Blindness
Thyroid Problems Boost Glaucoma Risk
Contact Lens Cases Often Contaminated
FITNESS
Barefoot Best for Running?
Exercise Extends Life of Kidney Patients
Walking Golf Course Affects Swing, Performance
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Bowel Prep Harder on Women Than Men
New Guidelines Issued for Management of IBS
Gum Chewing May Speed Colon Surgery Recovery
GENERAL HEALTH
Household Insecticides May Be Linked to Autoimmune Diseases
Fructose Boosts Blood Pressure, Studies Find
Olde Time Medicine Therapy May Prevent Alcoholic Relapse
HEAD & NECK
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
The Internet Is Becoming One-Stop Shopping for Health Help
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
Airport Full Body Scanners Pose No Health Threat: Experts
HEARING
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Ginkgo Won't Prevent Heart Attack, Stroke in Elderly
Laughter Can Boost Heart Health
Fructose Boosts Blood Pressure, Studies Find
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Viral Infection Might Trigger High Blood Pressure
The HPV Vaccine: Preventative Medicine or Human Sacrifice?
Surgical Masks Could Prevent Flu, Maybe
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Backpack Safety Should Be on Back-to-School Lists
Standard IQ Test May Underestimate People With Autism
Traffic Seems to Make Kids' Asthma Worse
MEN'S HEALTH
Low Vitamin D Levels May Boost Men's Heart Attack Risk
Low Iron Levels Cut Cancer Risk in Men With PAD
Varicose Veins May Mask Larger Problem
MENTAL HEALTH
Common Social Groups and Race, Seem to Help People Relate
Meaningful Conversations Boost Kids' Language Skills
Meditation May Boost College Students' Learning
PAIN
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Mom's Extra Pregnancy Pounds May Raise Child's Heart Risks
Expectant Mom's Exercise Keeps Newborn's Birth Weight Down
Before Conceiving, Take Folic Acid for One Full Year
SENIORS
Life Expectancy in U.S. Hits New High
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Meditation May Help Put Primary Insomnia to Bed
Exercising Throat Muscles May Relieve Sleep Apnea
Lose Weight, Sleep Apnea May Improve
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Vitamin D Good for Breast Cancer Patients
Lifting Weights Can Ease Arm Swelling in Breast Cancer Survivors
Vitamin D Deficiency Puts 40% of U.S. Infants and Toddlers At Risk
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Swine Flu Loves a Crowd

(HealthDay News) -- With the H1N1 swine flu virus lurking in every nook and cranny, all Americans should be on guard this coming flu season.

But experts say those living and working in crowded locales -- schools, colleges, prisons, cruise ships, airplanes, military barracks -- need to be extra careful.

"Any crowded place carries a heightened risk," said Dr. Melinda Moore, a senior health researcher at the Rand Corp., in Arlington, Va. "It really has to do with people being in close quarters and having disease-transmitting behaviors such as coughing and sneezing."

"The virus is mainly spread the respiratory route, and it's also on inanimate objects like doors and knobs and handles and desktops and telephones," added Dr. Stuart Beeber, attending pediatrician at Northern Westchester Hospital Center, in Mount Kisco, N.Y. "It's mainly in close quarters where a lot of people are together, such as in classrooms or offices, potentially even movie theaters."

The danger of transmission lies not only in the fact that hordes of people are together for long periods of time, but that those hordes may not be practicing good hygiene.

"Any environment in which people are crowded together with compromised hygiene carries a heightened risk," said Dr. Dean Blumberg, an associate professor of pediatric infectious diseases at the University of California, Davis, Children's Hospital. "It's when people don't have access to hand washing or shower facilities."

Younger children are not naturally very hygienic, Blumberg pointed out.

College students may also engage in behaviors that are friendly to the spread of the H1N1 virus, such as kissing and sharing drinks. If those drinks are alcoholic, judgment may be affected, resulting in even more unsafe behaviors. Smoking can also compromise the respiratory system, making you more vulnerable to infection, Blumberg said.

The added problem in jails and prisons is that stepped-up hygiene needs to be balanced with safety and, in some cases, could actually compromise safety, Blumberg said. For example, "alcohol-based hand gels can be dangerous in that environment," he said.

Budget cuts may even be contributing to a hygiene crisis. The current fiscal problems plaguing California affect all school facilities, including those related to hygiene, Blumberg said.

"The people involved may not be quite as interested in disease prevention compliance as they are with other things, but that doesn't make it any less important," Moore said.

The first line of protection is what experts call "respiratory etiquette." Coughing and sneezing into your elbow or handkerchief doesn't require any special facilities. And, as often as you can, wash your hands or cleanse them with hand foam or alcohol gel. "You may also want to wipe down surfaces that you are in frequent contact with, like door knobs," Beeber said.

These are also messages the airline and cruise-ship industry are emphasizing more than usual right now, although, for the most part, it's business as usual for travelers.

According to Erik Elvejord, a spokesman for Holland America Line, based in Seattle, the cruise ship industry is already bound by strict public health standards, including not letting sick passengers board a ship and isolating sick passengers who are already on board. Ships do have some flu-testing equipment on board as well as antivirals, he said. Passengers also receive notes on their pillow reminding them to wash their hands, and containers of hand sanitizer are placed all around the ships, although these measures are not new, Elvejord added. "We've kind of been doing what we've been doing all along," he said.

Although one passenger on a recent commercial airline flight was told by the flight crew that blankets were no longer available in economy class because of swine flu concerns, David Castelveter, a spokesman for the Air Transport Association (ATA), said he has "not seen that wholesale."

For the most part, the airline industry is also proceeding with travel-as-usual. "We [already] have pretty sophisticated filtering systems," he said.

Debunking one persistent myth, Castelveter stressed that cabin air is not recirculated, but comes in the side, moves in a circular motion, then exits the plane into the great beyond. The worst danger comes from the person sitting next to you -- not in front or behind, Castelveter said. "The person who sneezes in row 3 will have no impact on someone sitting in row 11," he said.

Airlines are being more diligent in passing out hand-washing messages, and both water and antibacterial soap are available on most airplanes.

The ATA is also communicating regularly with CDC officials and will follow any recommendations they make, such as screening passengers before boarding an aircraft. So far, nothing has changed, Castelveter said.

As always, people who are sick should stay away from others. "The buzz word is social isolation, so children who have flu-like symptoms should stay home from school and workers who have flu-like symptoms should stay home from work until they have been fever-free for 24 hours without any drugs," Beeber said.

SOURCES: Melinda Moore, M.D., senior health researcher, Rand Corp., Arlington, Va.; Dean Blumberg, M.D., associate professor, pediatric infectious diseases, University of California, Davis, Children's Hospital; Stuart Beeber, M.D., attending pediatrician, Northern Westchester Hospital, Mount Kisco, N.Y., and senior physician, Chappaqua Pediatrics, Chappaqua, N.Y.; Erik Elvejord, spokesman, Holland America Line, Seattle; David Castelveter, vice president, communications, Air Transport Association