• Forecast
  • News Tip
  • Categories
Temperature Precipitation
Estimated read time
1m 47s

Deadly germs can live in aircraft cabins for a week

By Jessica Firger / CBS News 1:10 PM May 20, 2014

Some of the most harmful and resilient bacteria on airplanes aren’t necessarily the ones from the sneezing old lady sitting next to you. They’re the germs that live on the upholstery of the chair, the tray table where the flight attendant places your lunch and on the metal buttons you press to move your seat or flush the toilet, according to new research just presented at the American Society for Microbiology’s annual meeting.

The researchers found bacteria such as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and E. coli can live for up to a week on airplanes that aren’t sufficiently cleaned. The study was partially funded by the Federal Aviation Administration.

For the study, a team of microbiologists and engineers at Auburn University in Alabama, simulated travel in the friendly skies. They obtained various parts of an aircraft cabin — seats, upholstery and leather, metal items such as the toilet flusher button, armrests, window shades — in order to test the life of various types of bacteria and see how long it could survive on those surfaces.

All together researchers tested six different types of bacteria. They found MRSA could last for up to 168 hours on the back pocket of an airplane chair, while E. coli survived on average for about 96 hours on the material from the armrest. Experts say the dry air found in airplanes means they’re an especially hospitable place for bacteria to live.

Several frequent flyers told CBS News it makes sense.

“I’m not surprised. I try not to focus on that stuff otherwise I wouldn’t go anywhere,” passenger Anneke Hiatt told CBS News.

Health experts recommend passengers always carry alcohol-based hand sanitizer and use it frequently. Many germ-conscious travelers such as David Urban already take precautions to remain as germ-free as possible.

“I just make sure to wash my hands, I don’t touch my face, my mouth my nose,” Urban told CBS News.

In the future, the researchers plan to study the effectiveness of various methods for cleaning and disinfecting airplane surfaces and test out other materials that may have antimicrobial properties, which could help limit the presence of bacteria in aircraft cabins.

CBSNews.com

Latest Stories

  • Lifestyle

    Film festival kicks off with premier of last movie shot under tax incentive program

    by Bonney Bowman on Dec 03, 17:39

    The Anchorage International Film Festival kicked off Friday night, with the premier of a movie shot right here in our home state. “Sugar Mountain” was the last film made under the tax incentive program, which the state ended due to budget issues. “Sugar Mountain” was shot in Seward, and featured the town and its people. […]

  • Politics

    Green Party drops bid for statewide Pennsylvania recount

    by Associated Press on Dec 03, 17:29

    The Green Party is dropping its court case seeking a statewide recount of Pennsylvania’s Nov. 8 presidential election. It had wanted to explore whether voting machines and systems had been hacked and the election result manipulated. The decision came Saturday, two days before a court hearing in the case. Lawyers for the Green Party-backed voters […]

  • News

    Scholar says China concerned about Trump policy following Taiwan call

    by Associated Press on Dec 03, 17:28

    China’s foreign minister says he hopes Beijing’s relations with the U.S. won’t be “interfered with or damaged” after President-elect Donald Trump broke with decades-long diplomatic tradition and spoke directly with Taiwan’s leader. Hong Kong’s Phoenix TV reports that Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said Saturday the call between Taiwan’s president and Trump was “just a […]

  • News

    Bergdahl seeks pardon from Obama to avert desertion trial

    by Associated Press on Dec 03, 17:22

    A former prisoner of war accused of endangering his U.S. comrades by walking off his post in Afghanistan is asking President Barack Obama to pardon him before leaving office. White House and Justice Department officials say U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl submitted the clemency request. If granted, it would allow Bergdahl to avert a court-martial […]

  • News

    Officials say up to 40 people may have perished in California warehouse fire

    by KTVA / AP on Dec 03, 15:41

    31st- pic.twitter.com/8TX6jk0iYq — Oakland Firefighters (@OaklandFireLive) December 3, 2016 OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Authorities say they fear up to 40 people might have died in a fire at an Oakland, California warehouse, which was hosting an electronic dance party. Alameda County Sheriff’s Sgt. Ray Kelly said Saturday that nine people were confirmed dead, and that he […]

  • News

    Bethel fire investigation reveals 2 bodies, police say

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Dec 03, 14:42

    Last updated at 5 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 3 Two Bethel residents were found dead inside their home after a fire early Saturday morning. Bethel police and fire personnel responded to the fire in the area of Trailer Court just after 1 a.m. and quickly extinguished it, according to a statement from Bethel Police Department […]

  • Weather

    Sitka airport closed after storm forced rocks, debris onto runway

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Dec 03, 14:13

    The Sitka Rocky Gutierrez Airport was closed for several hours Friday when a storm forced rocks and other debris onto the runway. High winds and heavy seas were blamed for the debris, which stretched across the runway for much of the day, according to the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities. “The airport is […]

  • Lifestyle

    A night at the Bethel Winter House

    by Adrian Wagner/KYUK on Dec 03, 13:47

    Bethel’s homeless shelter, Bethel Winter House, opened earlier this week, providing relief from the cold to Bethel’s many in need. A story published by KYUK Public Media showed what it was like for guests on Wednesday night. Around dinnertime, Major Lonnie Upshaw checked a large convection oven. “I’m serving lasagna, and chicken alfredo pasta with rolls tonight,” Upshaw said. […]