Page 1 of 1

Health & Safety on Public & Private Transport

Posted: Sat Sep 08, 2018 1:56 pm
by Ho Really
Want to start this topic with the following article that appeared in the NYT. Please add other articles of interest and your thoughts, ideas, suggestions, opinions, etc.
Airport Security Trays Carry More Cold Germs Than Toilets, Study Finds
By Palko Karasz
Sept. 5, 2018

LONDON — Airport security is there to protect you, but it may also give you the sniffles — or worse.

To all the places and surfaces we’ve been warned are teeming with germs or bacteria — your pets, the subway seat, airplane cabins, the A.T.M. — add the airport security tray.

The plastic trays — used at airport checkpoints around the globe and touched by millions of passengers as they drop shoes, laptops, luggage and other items into them to clear X-ray scanners — have been found to harbor a variety of germs, including the ones responsible for the common cold, according to researchers in Europe.

Scientists from the University of Nottingham in England and the Finnish National Institute for Health and Welfare swabbed frequently touched surfaces at Helsinki Airport in Finland during and after peak hours in the winter of 2016 and picked up traces of rhinovirus, the source of the common cold, and of the influenza A virus.

They found traces on half the luggage trays, more than on any of the other surfaces they tested. None of these viruses were found on toilet surfaces at the airport, they said.

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 study could also help educate people on how the infections we try to avoid each winter spread, Jonathan Van-Tam, a professor of health protection at the University of Nottingham, said in an emailed statement on Wednesday.

Many of the surfaces we touch on a daily basis harbor and can spread germs. These include mobile phones, kitchen sponges and even cute bathtub rubber ducks. But air travel is known to accelerate the worldwide spread of diseases such as the flu, released naturally, and potentially of others released intentionally.

The European Union has funded a research project, called Pandhub, on preventing the spread of “high-threat” pathogens through public transportation, and the study by the University of Nottingham and Finnish institute is part of that project.

“The presence of microbes in the environment of an airport has not been investigated previously,” said Niina Ikonen, a virology expert at the Finnish institute, who was involved in the study.

She added that the results provided new ideas for technical improvements in airport design and refurbishment.

Finavia, the company that operates Helsinki Airport, said in an email: “At Finavia airports, the hygiene protocols are carried in accordance to health officials’ requirements — all surfaces are cleaned daily and all security check point trays, etc., are washed regularly.”

The results of the study did not prove that the viruses found can cause disease, the researchers’ statement said. But previous research had proved that microbes can survive on various surfaces for several days.

Washing your hands properly and coughing into a handkerchief, tissue or sleeve, especially in public places, can help minimize the risk of contagion, Professor Van-Tam said.

“These simple precautions can help prevent pandemics and are most important in crowded areas like airports that have a high volume of people traveling to and from many different parts of the world,” he added.

A version of this article appears in print on Sept. 6, 2018, on Page A6 of the New York edition with the headline: Go Through Security, Pick Up Germs.
Also read the findings published in the journal BMC Infectious Diseases. The link is in the article. It explains how samples were taken etc., and makes interesting reading if you are into Health & Safety and even if you are not. I suppose we all need to be aware of the possibility of picking up some bug anywhere there's people... may have to leave home in space suits!


Re: Health & Safety on Public & Private Transport

Posted: Sun Sep 09, 2018 11:17 am
by rev
Almost makes me want to start carrying a bottle of detol hand sanitizer everywhere.

Re: Health & Safety on Public & Private Transport

Posted: Sun Sep 09, 2018 1:05 pm
by Ho Really
rev wrote:
Sun Sep 09, 2018 11:17 am
Almost makes me want to start carrying a bottle of detol hand sanitizer everywhere.
And perhaps a surgical mask too. But yes, you can't be too cautious these days. Just look at the Emirates flight 203 from Dubai to New York JFK on Wednesday, with 100 or so people on the lower floor of the A380 reported feeling unwell, some were crew. In the end 10 were hospitalised with flu-type symptoms. On subsequent days more... Two Philadelphia bound flights were targeted by medical professionals that included American Airlines flight 755 from Paris and, subsequently, American Airlines flight 717 from Munich. Passengers from both flights originated in Saudi Arabia and were believed to have been in Mecca for the Hajj, the annual Islamic pilgrimage. Twelve passengers there were singled out with flu-like symptoms and were eventually released. Also in Texas authorities there warned passengers who traveled on four Southwest flights on August 21 and 22 to look out for symptoms of the measles. A passenger was later diagnosed with the virus-induced infection.

Not trying to be racist here but I've heard there's been health problems before with people flying back home from pilgrimages to Mecca. Could it be something symptomatic about the facilities at Mecca?