Next time you run to the airport to catch a flight, bring along some antibiotic hand sanitizer. You’ll need it.
Researchers from Britain and Finland recently set out to swab for respiratory viruses on commonly touched surfaces at Helsinki Airport. They found an assortment of viruses on 10 percent of the surfaces tested, according to a study published in the journal BMC Infectious Diseases.
The place where the viruses were most commonly discovered were on the plastic trays at security checkpoints where shoes and other carry-on items are X-rayed.
Researchers said these results reemphasize the need for habits of good hygiene to control the spread of contagious disease. Those habits include frequent hand washing and appropriate cough protocol, such as coughing into a tissue or onto a shirtsleeve.
Viruses also were detected on store payment terminals, stairway railings, passport counters, children’s play areas and in the air.
Rhinovirus, which causes the common cold, was the virus researchers discovered most frequently They also detected the virus for influenza A.
Researchers tested for the viruses during and after peak passenger traffic. While some of the viruses were undoubtedly dead and unable to cause contagion, scientists have found that microbes can survive on surfaces for several days.
It seems there is one place at the airport that is safe from the scourge of disease-causing virus. It’s the lavatories. The study noted that researchers found no respiratory viruses on toilet surfaces.
These surfaces, after all, may well be the things travelers try their best to avoid touching.