• Kamogawa, Chiba

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Susan Menadue-Chun should know that getting a disease from the biometric fingerprinting device at Narita Airport is virtually nil and only statistically possible, but carrying some wet tissue like “handy wipes” is a good idea.

It’s not clear whether the reading light switch over your airline seat gets disinfected either. Touching the strap in the airport bus has a similar risk as does touching the staircase handrail on the way down to get luggage. Ditto for the luggage cart handle and for the luggage handle itself, since it has undoubtedly been touched by several handlers on its way to Narita.

There is a degree of unwarranted paranoia about this flu outbreak that is fueled by the media, by our ignorance about how this virus is transmitted, and from watching Adrian Monk on television. Ms. Menadue-Chun is correct that washing hands frequently is always a good idea, influenza season or not. We cannot rely on others to sanitize all of the possible surface contacts we might encounter.

name withheld by request

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