The crowded skies: Bacteria don’t give airplane passengers elbow room


Turbulence, the TSA and towering airfares are the least you have to worry about on your next flight, according to a study presented at the American Society for Microbiology.

Disease-causing bacteria are the unseen hijackers of airliners, sticking to cabin surfaces for as long as a week.

The dreaded MRSA (Staphylococcus aureus)  — the bane of hospitals and nursing homes —  lasted 168 hours on a seat-back pocket. And the lovely E. coli O157:H7 lingered for 96 hours on a passenger armrest.

“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,” says Kiril Vaglenov of Auburn University.

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