Why you should always wash your hands after passing airport security

Such trays are covered in viruses that can cause everything from the common cold and flu to pneumonia bladder infections SARS and even brain damage the study found

Why you should always wash your hands after passing airport security

Researchers from the University of Nottingham in the United Kingdom swabbed a variety of surfaces at Helsinki-Vantaa airport in Finland during the winter of 2016.

Researchers say rhinovirus, which causes the common cold, was the most common virus found, but the study also picked up the influenza A virus.

"Each security tray is rapidly recycled and potentially touched by several hundred passengers per day... trays are non-porous and virus survival is known to be prolonged".

Germs love the plastic security trays, according to a study from the University of Nottingham and the Finnish National Institute for Health and Welfare.

The study also found the viruses on 10% of the surface area tested such as shop payment terminals, staircase rails, as well as passport-checking counters.

In order to combat the germs all around you at the airport, the study's researchers recommend vigilant hand washing and practicing "careful coughing hygiene".

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Researchers who repeatedly swabbed a plastic toy dog in the airport's children's playground found that 67 percent of the samples hosted cold-causing viruses. Fewer or no viruses were found in most toilet areas studied by scientists.

"A passenger has a virus and they breathe down into them they can deposit a little bit of virus along with their shoes and luggage into the bin", he said.

To all the places and surfaces we've been warned are teeming with germs or bacteria - your pets, the subway seat, airplane cabins, the ATM - add the airport security tray.

"Security check trays appear to pose the highest potential risk and are used by virtually all embarking passengers; they have the potential to be especially problematic if a severe pathogen with an indirect transmission mechanism were to pose a threat for global spread", the authors wrote. They write, "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".

"This study supports the case for improved public awareness of how viral infections spread", said Professor of Health Protection, Jonathan Van Tram, from the School of Medicine at the University of Nottingham, in a statement.

Virology expert Niina Ikonen from the Finnish National Institute for Health and Welfare said: 'The presence of microbes in the environment of an airport has not been investigated previously. Still, your best bet to avoid illness is to wash your hands frequently with soap and warm water.

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