May 20th, 2014
09:31 AM ET

E. coli, MRSA can survive for days on planes

Ever sit on a plane and wonder how long the germs left by passengers past plan on hanging around?

A new study examined how long two potentially deadly bacteria – E. coli and MRSA – can live on various surfaces inside an airplane’s cabin, and how easily they are transmitted by contact.

Researchers at Auburn University used actual armrests, toilet flush handles, tray tables, window shades, seats and seat pockets provided by Delta Airlines for the study – inoculating them with bacteria and storing them in conditions meant to simulate a pressurized cabin: 75 degrees Fahrenheit at 20% humidity.

In general, bacteria lived longest on the most porous surfaces. For example, MRSA lasted seven days on the cloth seat pocket, six days on the rubber armrest and leather seat, five days on the plastic window shade and tray table, and four days on the steel toilet handle.

E. coli, by one measure, survived four days on the rubber armrest, three days on the plastic tray table, and two days on the steel toilet handle.

“In small nooks, like the ones created by a pore, they are protected from environmental stressors like dehydration, UV and disinfectants,” said the lead study author, Kiril Vaglenov.

But the same porous material properties that protect bacteria from threats also seem to prevent them from spreading easily.

By contrast, the bacteria on less porous materials like tray tables, toilet handles and window shades scored much higher than seat pockets and leather seats for transmissibility – meaning bacteria on these surfaces were far more likely to transfer to human skin.

"The best thing you can do to protect yourself when flying is: Before you put anything into your mouth, bring some alcohol hand sanitizer and sanitize your hands. It's all about risk mitigation," said Michael Schmidt, a professor of microbiology and immunology at the Medical University of South Carolina.

“After I wipe my hands, I use the rest of the alcohol wipe to wipe down the tabletop, just in case I touch it and inadvertently eat something.”

The study did not take bacterial samples from actual aircraft cabins.

“We have efficient cleaning specifications that are standardized across our entire operation before all departures and on aircraft that remain on the ground overnight,” Delta Airlines said in response to the study. “This includes removing all trash, wiping down all countertops, surfaces and seats, cleaning floors and replacing and restocking pillowcases and blankets among several other procedures.”

The study was supported by funds from the Federal Aviation Administration and the Airliner Cabin Environment Research Center.

soundoff (741 Responses)
  1. Extended Van Repair Shop


    June 28, 2021 at 08:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. RV Repair Santa Ana

    Itís hard to find knowledgeable people on this subject, but you sound like you know what youíre talking about! Thanks


    June 28, 2021 at 08:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. naplangla

    Tin Tức, Sự Khiếu Nại Liên Quan Đến Thẳng đá Bóng Nữ Giới tải ku casinoĐội tuyển chọn futsal nước ta đã có được một trận đấu đồng ý được trước phe đối lập đầy mức độ mạnh Lebanon. Kết trái Bà Rịa-Vũng Tàu vs Bình Phước thời điểm hôm nay 18h00 ngày 5/5, Hạng nhất Việt Nam.


    June 28, 2021 at 09:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. RV Repairs Near My Location


    June 28, 2021 at 13:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. 2006 Mercedes Sprinter 2500 Turbo Actuator Repair


    June 28, 2021 at 15:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Sprinter Van Frame Repair Shop

    I blog frequently and I seriously thank you for your content. The article has truly peaked my interest. I will take a note of your blog and keep checking for new information about once per week. I subscribed to your Feed as well.


    June 28, 2021 at 16:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. 2012 Mercedez Benz Sprinter Repair


    June 28, 2021 at 17:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Nercedes Sprinter Repair Near Me

    May I just say what a relief to find a person that genuinely understands what they're talking about on the web. You actually realize how to bring an issue to light and make it important. More people must check this out and understand this side of your story. I can't believe you aren't more popular because you certainly have the gift.


    June 28, 2021 at 19:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. RV Repair Huntington Beach

    Howdy, I think your website might be having internet browser compatibility issues. When I look at your site in Safari, it looks fine however when opening in Internet Explorer, it's got some overlapping issues. I merely wanted to give you a quick heads up! Apart from that, great site!


    June 28, 2021 at 20:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Sprinter Van Paint Shop Near Me

    An impressive share! I have just forwarded this onto a friend who was conducting a little homework on this. And he in fact ordered me lunch due to the fact that I stumbled upon it for him... lol. So allow me to reword this.... Thanks for the meal!! But yeah, thanks for spending the time to discuss this matter here on your website.


    June 28, 2021 at 21:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Repair My 2006 Dodge Sprinter 3500 Rv

    Right here is the right site for anybody who really wants to understand this topic. You understand so much its almost hard to argue with you (not that I personally will need toÖHaHa). You definitely put a brand new spin on a topic that has been written about for decades. Great stuff, just excellent!


    June 28, 2021 at 23:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Body Damage


    June 28, 2021 at 23:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Van Auto Repair

    This website was... how do I say it? Relevant!! Finally I have found something that helped me. Appreciate it!


    June 29, 2021 at 03:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Luxury Rv Shop


    June 29, 2021 at 04:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Sprinter Repair Shops Near Me

    A fascinating discussion is definitely worth comment. I do believe that you should write more about this subject matter, it may not be a taboo matter but typically people don't speak about such topics. To the next! Best wishes!!


    June 29, 2021 at 04:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. RV Repair Shops Near Me Now

    I seriously love your blog.. Excellent colors & theme. Did you develop this web site yourself? Please reply back as Iím looking to create my very own website and want to learn where you got this from or what the theme is called. Cheers!


    June 29, 2021 at 04:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. Sprinter Van Rooftop A/C Leak Repair

    Hello there! This blog post could not be written any better! Going through this article reminds me of my previous roommate! He continually kept preaching about this. I will forward this post to him. Pretty sure he will have a good read. Thank you for sharing!


    June 29, 2021 at 10:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. Sprinter Repair Shop Near Me


    June 29, 2021 at 11:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. RV Repair Near My Location

    Pretty! This was an incredibly wonderful post. Many thanks for supplying this information.


    June 29, 2021 at 11:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. RV Repairs Near Me

    I truly love your blog.. Pleasant colors & theme. Did you make this web site yourself? Please reply back as Iím trying to create my own personal site and would love to learn where you got this from or exactly what the theme is named. Appreciate it!


    June 29, 2021 at 15:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. Coachmen Van Repair

    Hi, I do believe this is a great web site. I stumbledupon it 😉 I may return once again since i have saved as a favorite it. Money and freedom is the best way to change, may you be rich and continue to help others.


    June 29, 2021 at 15:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. Service B Mercedes Sprinter


    June 29, 2021 at 15:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. City Bus Repair

    The very next time I read a blog, I hope that it doesn't fail me just as much as this particular one. After all, I know it was my choice to read, but I genuinely believed you'd have something useful to talk about. All I hear is a bunch of moaning about something that you could possibly fix if you were not too busy looking for attention.


    June 29, 2021 at 17:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. RV Repair Around Me

    I want to to thank you for this wonderful read!! I certainly enjoyed every bit of it. I've got you book-marked to look at new stuff you postÖ


    June 29, 2021 at 17:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. Mercedes Benz Sprinter Repair Shop

    Iím amazed, I must say. Seldom do I come across a blog thatís equally educative and engaging, and without a doubt, you've hit the nail on the head. The problem is something which not enough men and women are speaking intelligently about. I am very happy that I came across this in my search for something relating to this.


    June 29, 2021 at 17:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. Rust Repair Sprinter


    June 29, 2021 at 19:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. Camper Repair Shops Near Me

    Iím impressed, I have to admit. Rarely do I encounter a blog thatís both educative and amusing, and let me tell you, you have hit the nail on the head. The issue is something that too few folks are speaking intelligently about. I am very happy I found this during my hunt for something regarding this.


    June 29, 2021 at 21:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. Conversion Shop Near Me

    The next time I read a blog, I hope that it doesn't fail me just as much as this one. After all, I know it was my choice to read, however I genuinely thought you would probably have something useful to talk about. All I hear is a bunch of complaining about something that you could fix if you were not too busy searching for attention.


    June 29, 2021 at 22:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. Sprinter Side Door Repair


    June 29, 2021 at 23:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. Van Alignment


    June 30, 2021 at 00:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. RV Repair Shops Near Me Now

    This is a topic that is close to my heart... Best wishes! Where are your contact details though?


    June 30, 2021 at 02:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. Sprinter Repair Costa Mesa

    You should take part in a contest for one of the best sites on the web. I most certainly will recommend this site!


    June 30, 2021 at 04:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. RV Repairs Nearby

    This blog was... how do you say it? Relevant!! Finally I've found something which helped me. Many thanks!


    June 30, 2021 at 05:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. Frame Repair Shop Near Me

    I really like it when folks come together and share views. Great site, continue the good work!


    June 30, 2021 at 06:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. RV Repair California


    June 30, 2021 at 06:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. vwin

    Trực Tiếp Soccer Ngày Hôm Nay, Link Coi đá Bóng Trực Tuyến 24h 888 betĐội tuyển chọn futsal nước ta đã có được một trận đấu chấp nhận được trước đối thủ cạnh tranh đầy sức mạnh Lebanon. Kết quả Bà Rịa-Vũng Tàu vs Bình Phước ngày hôm nay 18h00 ngày 5/5, Hạng nhất nước Việt Nam.


    June 30, 2021 at 09:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. RV Repair Near Me


    June 30, 2021 at 12:38 | Report abuse | Reply
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15

Leave a Reply to RV Toilets Riverside


CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.

About this blog

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.