Medicine

Those airport security bins carry more germs than the toilets, scientists say

Those airport security bins carry more germs than the toilets, scientists say

Although the viruses were found in half of the samples taken from security trays, strangely enough, toilet bowls, flush buttons, or the locks inside stall doors weren't infected.

No respiratory virus germs were found on toilets-a finding referred to as "interesting" in a press release.

The surfaces that tested positive for disease included a plastic dog toy in the children's playground; the buttons of the payment terminal at the pharmacy; handrails of stairs; the passenger side of the desk and divider glass at passport control points; and of, course, the hand-carried luggage trays at the security check area.

Results revealed that of the eight samples, four contained rhinovirus or adenovirus.

The study, published last week in the BioMed Central Infectious Diseases journal, tested swabs from surface samples of the plastic bins at Helsinki Airport that were taken at three different times during the peak of the 2015-2016 flu season.

The risk of using the security trays could be reduced by offering hand sanitisation with alcohol hand rubs before and after security screening, and increasing the frequency of tray disinfection, the authors suggested.

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"We found the highest frequency of respiratory viruses on plastic trays used in security check areas for depositing hand-carried luggage and personal items", the study says.

Viral contamination of standard passenger pathways and procedures in an airport - such as security screening trays - "have the potential to be especially problematic if a severe pathogen with an indirect transmission mechanism were to pose a threat for global spread", the researchers note.

The most common virus found in the survey was rhinovirus, which causes the common cold but the swabs also picked up the influenza A virus, researchers said.

Professor of health protection Jonathan Van-Tam, from the University of Nottingham, said: "This study supports the case for improved public awareness of how viral infections spread".

Virology expert Niina Ikonen from the Finnish National Institute for Health and Welfare said: 'The presence of microbes in the environment of an airport has not been investigated previously.

The scientists involved in the study warned that airports could spread disease and create a potential risk-zone.


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