Travelling Memorial Day Weekend by Air? Watch Out for Lingering Bacteria on Planes

Next time you step aboard a plane, take caution! Surfaces may be ridden with MRSA and E. coli.

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The next time you hop on a plane, make sure you have with you sanitary wipes.

Planes are ridden with germs, including E. coli and methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), which can survive for days on surfaces.

In a study examining how long the two deadly bacteria live on the surface of the inside of the plane – like on armrests, toilet flush handles, tray tables, window shades, seats and seat pockets, it found MRSA lasted the longest.

MRSA survived as long as seven days on seat pockets (cloth and leather) and E. coli survived as long as four days on the armrest.

The elements of the plane were brought into the lab to conduct the study. After inoculating the elements with the bacteria and storing them in conditions simulating a pressured cabin, it was found that the bacteria lived longest on the most porous surface. This also makes bacteria on these surfaces more transmissible to human skin.

The study was conducted by researchers from Auburn University. The study was supported by funds from the Federal Aviation Administration and the Airliner Cabin Environment Research Center.

Results from this research were presented at the 2014 General Meeting of the American Society for Microbiology in Boston this week.

[Source: American Society for Microbiology]