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Flying

Yes, airplane seats are as disgusting as you feared

Ugh.

DISEASE-CAUSING BACTERIA can linger on airplane cabin surfaces for up to a week, scientists have just discovered.

Yes, that is all the nightmares of your restless plane sleeps confirmed.

Microbiologists told the American Society for Microbiology this week that the harmful germs pose a threat to passengers.

The researchers said the study is their “first step in investigating the potential problem” of catching a disease from other sick passengers.

Auburn University’s Kiril Vaglenov said it was a concern of many travellers given the “long time spent in crowded air cabins”.

The team took six different types of material from a major airline carrier and inoculated them with the bacteria – MRSA and E. coli 0157 (which causes severe diarrheal disease – sorry) – to see if they can survive the environmental conditions of the cabin.

In order for the germs to be transmitted from a cabin surface to a person, they must be able to survive in the armrests, on the seats, on the plastic trays or in the bathroom.

At 168 hours, MRSA lasted the longest on material from the cloth which covers the back of the seat. Meanwhile, E. coli the material of the seat armrest, where it remained for 96 hours.  Other surfaces can keep the bacteria for a number of days:

  • Leather seat: 7 days
  • Plastic Window Shade: 3 days
  • Plastic Tray Table: 3 days
  • Steel Toilet Handle: 2 days

“Our data show that both of these bacteria can survive for days on the selected types of surfaces independent of the type of simulated body fluid present, and those pose a risk of transmission via skin contact,” explained Vaglenov, who says this initial study lays the foundation for “important work to come”.

That important work will include cleaning and disinfection strategies for airlines. They also want to test surfaces that have natural antimicrobial properties to see if they could help reduce the persistence of germs in the passenger aircraft cabin.

Important work, indeed. Are you listening Michael O’Leary?

Read: It turns out urine is not actually sterile

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More: World’s oldest sperm found in Australia

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