Preventing the AAS Ick

by Jane on October 2, 2009

I’ve been to 4 winter AAS meetings.  Twice, I came back with the “AAS Ick”, a nasty cold that lingered and certainly did NOT make my Astro Better.

It’s understandable: the big meeting is right after the holidays — children are home from daycare & school, relatives have traveled from afar, and germs are zinging overhead like bullets in South Tucson on New Year’s.  Once the microfauna are sufficiently diverse, everyone hops onto a plane, spreads the new germs, picks up new ones, and travels to the conference.  Then we shake hands for several days and pass on our newly-acquired germs.

So, in the interest of post-AAS meeting productivity, what can we all do to avoid the AAS Ick?

Our department just had free flu shots (1 nurse, 1 conference room, 2 hours, very popular.)  If you can talk your department into doing it, it’s a GREAT idea, and builds herd immunity.  Else, both pharmacies on my walk to work have ~$30 shots.

And, I learned from NPR that I’ve been sneezing wrong all my life — I should sneeze into my elbow, not my hand.

What else?  Not to be too Howard Hughes-ian, but the AAS Ick is a productivity-killer.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Kelle October 3, 2009 at 12:20 am

– DON’T STRESS. Stress weakens the immune system. You’re talk/poster is excellent. You’re smart enough and gosh darn it, people like you. Don’t stress too much, or you’ll get sick much easier.
– HYDRATE. With all the boozing, be sure to keep drinking water both at night and during the day. Best to start on the plane, otherwise you’re just starting the trip off de-hydrated.
– SLEEP. it’s probably okay to miss the morning session if you were out late the night before. I try to be sure I get at least one 8-hour sleep mixed in with the 3-4 hour ones.
– WASH HANDS…and avoid touching your eyes, mouth, and nose. It’s something we hear all the time and yet most of us still don’t do it enough. When I’m about to pass up a chance to wash my hands, I start to think about all the door knobs and hand rails I’ve touched and the hand held appetizers I’m about to go eat, and then I turn around and wash my hands. I also like to use antibacterial hand gel on my hands after I get settled into my airplane seat…sometimes I even wipe down my armrest with a little gel and a tissue. If you choose to do this, be prepared to be horrified at what comes off.

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2 Mr Squid October 4, 2009 at 2:17 pm

My advice is to be sure to take time to relax during the meeting. You do not need to be at every talk, and you do not need to spend all of your free time networking. There are some nice places to eat right across the street from the upcoming DC meeting. Eat at some of them instead of at the hotel. There is a zoo (with an octopus) a ten-minute walk away, and it is a pleasant walk, so perhaps spend an afternoon there. The hotel is right next to a subway stop, so it is easy to take a day off and play tourist if you want to.

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