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Public transport increases risk of infection

21st January 2011

Researchers say that people who use public transport are at higher risk of developing an acute respiratory infection.


A team from the University of Nottingham has looked at the relationship between public transport and acute respiratory infection (ARI).

They say that people who have recently ridden a bus are six times more likely than those who do not use public transportation to find they will need to visit their GP.

While the study focusing on the relationship between public transportation and ARI was relatively small, researchers say it underlines the need for good hygiene, particularly at a time there are a number of winter viruses around.

The research was funded by the Health Protection Agency and led by Nottingham medical student Joy Troko during a flu outbreak in the city between December 2008 and January 2009.

She questioned 72 patients with an ARI about their use of buses in the five days leading up to the onset of their illness and a further 66 people who had attended the same GP surgery for another non-respiratory condition in order to form a control group.

Those who had used public transport were almost six times more likely to be diagnosed with an ARI than those with a different infection.

Jonathan Van Tam, professor of health protection in the university’s School of Community Health Science and director of the Health Protection Research Group, said: “The risk appeared greatest among occasional bus or tram users.”

The findings have been published in the online journal BMC Infectious Diseases.


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