Just Plane Scared: Can You Get Ebola From an Airplane?

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This is the plane on which the Dallas nurse diagnosed with Ebola flew Monday night. Would you be afraid to fly on it? (Photo: AP)

As recently as a week ago, people were afraid of catching Ebola from other people. Now it seems people are afraid of getting it from airplanes.

Two of the known Ebola victims in the U.S. are known to have taken commercial flights soon before their diagnoses: Thomas Eric Duncan, who died from Ebola last week, came to the U.S. on two United Airlines flights that took him from Brussels to Washington, D.C. and on to Dallas. And Amber Joy Vinson , a nurse at the Dallas hospital where Duncan was treated and died, flew Frontier Airlines from Cleveland to Dallas on Monday night.

Frontier Airlines announced in a statement that it has cleaned, multiple times, the airplane on which Vinson flew. (United Airlines has yet to respond to Yahoo Travel’s inquiries about the planes on which Duncan flew.)

WATCH: Frontier Airlines Plane With Ebola Patient Decontaminated at DIA

But that’s not enough to quell the hysteria over the planes themselves. The Cleveland Plain Dealer reports a school system actually cancelled classes in two buildings because a staff member may have flown on the same plane as Vinson. Not the same flight — the same plane.

And now, the hysteria has hit social media. MSNBC reporter Suzy Khimm posted a picture of a fellow passenger wearing gloves on a flight.

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“That strikes me as overkill," Arthur Reingold, professor and head of epidemiology at the University of California, Berkeley School of Public Health tells Yahoo Travel about the Ebola plane scares. He says it’s incredibly difficult to contract Ebola during a flight, to say nothing of when the Ebola patient is no longer on board. "If someone is not vomiting or having diarrhea, I think the risk of transmission on an airplane for this particular disease is not great — basically nonexistent."

An abundance of caution during the outbreak of a disease as deadly as Ebola is understandable. But wearing surgical gloves during flights — or clearing out a building because someone may have been on an airplane where someone who has Ebola may have sat previously — might be signs that we might be dealing with another harmful outbreak: an Ebola overreaction.

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