An outbreak of influenza aboard a commercial airliner

Am J Epidemiol. 1979 Jul;110(1):1-6. doi: 10.1093/oxfordjournals.aje.a112781.


A jet airliner with 54 persons aboard was delayed on the ground for three hours because of engine failure during a takeoff attempt. Most passengers stayed on the airplane during the delay. Within 72 hours, 72 per cent of the passengers became ill with symptoms of cough, fever, fatigue, headache, sore throat and myalgia. One passenger, the apparent index case, was ill on the airplane, and the clinical attack rate among the others varied with the amount of time spent aboard. Virus antigenically similar to A/Texas/1/77(H3N2) was isolated from 8 of 31 passengers cultured, and 20 of 22 ill persons tested had serologic evidence of infection with this virus. The airplane ventilation system was inoperative during the delay and this may account for the high attack rate.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aircraft*
  • Alaska
  • Antibodies, Viral
  • Disease Outbreaks*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Influenza, Human / epidemiology*
  • Influenza, Human / immunology
  • Influenza, Human / transmission
  • Occupational Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Occupational Diseases / immunology
  • Occupational Diseases / transmission
  • Travel*
  • Ventilation


  • Antibodies, Viral