Other surfaces that tested positive for sickness-inducing germs in the study include handrails of stairs, the desk and divider glass at the passport control point, and a plastic toy in a children’s play area.
The researchers note that risk of spreading illnesses in airports can be improved by offering hand sanitizer to passengers before and after security screenings and increasing the frequency of wiping down plastic luggage bins.
“This knowledge helps in the recognition of hot spots for contact transmission risk, which could be important during an emerging pandemic threat or severe epidemic,” they write.
The authors say the fact that they didn’t detect any respiratory viruses on toilets in the study is not really surprising, “as passengers may pay particular attention to limiting touch and to hand hygiene, in a washroom environment.”
Of course, not everyone who comes in contact with germy surfaces at an airport will end up getting stick. Still, your best bet to avoid illness is towith soap and warm water. The CDC recommends scrubbing your hands for at least 20 seconds, or the equivalent of humming the “Happy Birthday” song from beginning to end twice.
If soap and water is not available, the CDC recommends using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol.