Foodborne illness is a growing concern in the U.S., and one that flight departments and FBOs should take seriously. According to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are approximately 48 million cases each year in the U.S., 128,000 of them severe enough to require hospitalization, 3,000 of them fatal. Travel medical services provider MedAire notes that gastrointestinal illness accounts for the largest percentage of calls from its private aviation customers, with 77 percent of them regarding passengers.
Medical authorities are advising travelers to Asia–and Southeast Asia in particular–to consider being vaccinated against Japanese encephalitis, a mosquito-borne viral infection. The vaccine isn’t suitable for everyone, but should be considered by travelers who plan an extended stay or will spend time in rural areas. Approximately 30,000 to 50,000 cases of Japanese encephalitis are reported annually.
It is the role of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to block the introduction of communicable diseases into the U.S. from abroad. What is less well known is that the commander of any aircraft destined for a U.S. port of entry has the same legal obligation.