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Science File | IN BRIEF

Restricting Air Travel Could Slow Spread of Flu

September 16, 2006|From Times Wire Reports

Scientists have found the first real evidence that restricting air travel can delay flu's spread -- a finding that could influence government plans for battling the next influenza pandemic.

Boston researchers reported this week in the online science journal PLoS Medicine that the drop in air travel after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks seemed to delay that winter's flu season by about two weeks.

Some scientists said the study didn't prove that restricting air travel really helps in the long run -- there was no drop in the number of deaths. If a pandemic were to strike, the question is whether a two-week delay would outweigh the economic chaos of severe travel restrictions.

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