Many passengers dread flying for fear of becoming sick. With recycled air inside airplane cabins, passengers often fear they could catch tuberculosis from other passengers. However, it is much more likely for passengers to catch MRSA and E.Coli from surfaces within the cabin. According to research conducted from Auburn University, MRSA and E. Coli linger for days on airplane cabin surfaces.
Researchers from Auburn University tested how long these two bacteria could linger on surfaces found within an airplane cabin. With the help of a major airline, they were provided samples of six materials found typically in an airplane cabin. The materials tested were the armrest, plastic tray table, window shade, toilet button, seat pocket cloth and leather.
The results showed that MRSA survived longest on the seat pocket cloth while E.Coli survived longest on the armrest . The E. Coli virus lasted for 96 hours (4 days) after landing on the armrest. MRSA survived even longer and lingered for a whooping 7 days after landing on a seat pocket cloth.
Now the typical Boeing domestic airplane can carry 230 to 289 people per flight. If a domestic short haul plane were to make conservatively 4 flights a day, that would mean anywhere from 6,440 to 8,092 people could become infected with the MRSA virus just on that one plane before the MRSA virus died. And you can ask yourself, how easy is to become infected with MRSA virus in a plane? Well, by the stats and just doing the math we think is very easy.
Researchers hope their findings will help the airline carriers better identify which areas of the plane to disinfect. Clearly the armrests and seat pocket cloths will need to be paid extra attention to when it comes to disinfecting. Otherwise passengers may be bringing home more souvenirs than they bargained for in the form of MRSA and E. Coli.
Preidt, Robert. “Unwanted Germs Can Land, Last Inside Jetliners.” EverydayHealth.com. http://www.everydayhealth.com/news/unwanted-germs-can-land-last-inside-jetliners/?xid=aol_eh-news_21_20140519_&aolcat=HLT&icid=maing-grid7%7Cmaing11%7Cdl21%7Csec1_lnk2&pLid=479195 (accessed July 29, 2014).