Published: Sat, September 08, 2018
Medical | By

Why going through security at airports could make you ill

Why going through security at airports could make you ill

The findings, published in the journal BMC Infectious Diseases, could help improve public health strategies in the fight against the spread of infectious diseases worldwide.

The researchers collected swabs on 90 commonly touched surfaces in the airport and four air samples to test for numerous respiratory viruses.

The most common virus found in the study was rhinovirus, which causes the common cold.

"The latter is consistent with security procedures being an obligatory step for all departing passengers, and that each security tray is rapidly recycled and potentially touched by several hundred passengers per day".

The highest levels of respiratory viruses at airports are on the plastic trays used at security checkpoints, a new study finds.

Security screening trays appear to pose the highest potential risk, according to the study, which is worrying given they are used by virtually all embarking passengers.

So next time you're dumping your phone, passport and laptop into the tray - it might be worth having the hand sanitizer handy. Out of the eight trays that were tested with a nylon swab, 50 per cent detected respiratory viruses on the surface, which included adeno, influenza A, rhinovirus and human corona.

About 10 percent of what you touch at the airport is carrying a virus - and the most heavily infested place is one you can not avoid.

The investigation by researchers from the University of Nottingham and the Finnish National Institute for Health and Welfare involved sampling surfaces immediately after peak hours and before any cleaning had been performed.

"To our knowledge, security trays are not routinely disinfected", the study authors note, confirming our fears.

The report also commented on the dangers of spreading diseases domestically and internationally, stating: "They have the potential to be especially problematic if a severe pathogen with an indirect transmission mechanism were to pose a threat for worldwide spread". They wrote that since passengers pay more attention to hygiene and hand washing in the washrooms, there are no respiratory viruses on these surfaces. Still, your best bet to avoid illness is to wash your hands frequently with soap and warm water.

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