Airport surfaces may spread flu virus, research tells

Airport surfaces may spread flu virus, research tells

Cold season is on its way. It is the time to get all the precautionary measures to prevent the germs attack. The crowded areas are obvious to have these unwanted germs that may cause diseases.

The new research tells about the highest prevalence of some viruses at various airport surfaces. It says that the plastic security trays carry the maximum viruses.

The common cold or flu is among the most common virus but its, not life-threatening. The inconvenience causes a great deal of money to the US economy as shown by the recent statistics. CNBC estimates flu costs over $10 billion annually. This amount includes both outpatient visits and hospitalization.

Additionally, workers lose extra  $6.2 billion annually, deducted from their wages for the lost productivity due to flu.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) of USA predicts the year 2018–2019 crucial during flu season. It recommends the public to follow all precautionary and preventive measures to avoid getting flu. For example getting flu shot, not spreading the virus, avoid catching flu from infected surfaces etc. (Click here to read all guidelines by CDC)

All the crowded places such as subway station or airport have the highest chance to transmit the virus. As a huge number of people use these places, staying away from viruses here is really challenging.

This new research helps people to avoid all such areas by screening a few surfaces from airports. The research was conducted by the University of Nottingham in the United Kingdom in collaboration with the Finnish National Institute for Health and Welfare in Helsinki.

The objective of this study was to find out which airport surface carries the high amount of viruses specifically contributing to respiratory diseases.

The findings of this research are published in the journal BMC Infectious Diseases. Click here to read the complete results.

What was studied in this research?

The research team collected samples of surfaces and air from Helsinki-Vantaa airport during the peak flu season during the year 2015–2016 in Finland.

Only the surfaces that were in contact with maximum passengers were used in this study. Adding up, Helsinki-Vantaa is the main airport in Finland, that registered approximately 20 million passengers during 2017.

Some examples of the surfaces that were examined included the following.

  • Armrests
  • Escalators
  • stair handrails
  • toys of children’s play area
  • trolley handles
  • luggage trays (at security checkpoint)
  • toilet seat lids
  • locks
  • flushing buttons at toilets

Swab samples from these places were tested for influenza A, influenza B, respiratory syncytial virus, rhinovirus, coronaviruses, and adenoviruses.

What did the results show?

The findings of the tests revealed that most of the viruses were present on almost 10% of all the surfaces examined. The highest concentration of viruses was on the plastic security trays.

Among all the examined viruses, rhinovirus was the main culprit for a common cold. It had the most widespread. Second to rhinovirus was influenza A virus, contributing to flu.

However, there was no respiratory virus on any of the toilet surfaces under testing. The research team expects these findings to be helpful for the public to prepare for flu season.

This study was a part of an international project called PANDHUB supported and funded by the European Union. It mainly focuses on studying the role of major traffic hubs in spreading different infections in public.

Additionally, this study plays a supportive role for the public awareness program on how common viral infections spread. The risk of getting these infections may be minimized with such awareness programs. The research team also adds certain practices that may reduce the chance to catch viruses. It includes practicing a hygienic hand washing and coughing into a handkerchief, tissue, or sleeve at public places.

Following these simple precautionary measures can help in preventing the pandemics. It is significant that corded areas like airports and subway stations cater to a high volume of people traveling. These people are from many different parts of the world.

In this case, this new research finding supports better planning and control of serious infectious diseases. Lastly, it also provides new ideas to improve the hygienic conditions at airports and other crowded public places.



Published at Sat, 20 Oct 2018 14:49:35 +0000

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