You might want to throw a bottle of sanitizer into that clear plastic bag next time you head for airport security.
"An airport bin may carry more germs than a toilet, but a piece of meat can give you E. coli, mad cow disease, SARS, bird flu, campylobacter, salmonella, and other stomach-churning, potentially deadly diseases", says PETA President Ingrid Newkirk.
Four of the eight samples contained the rhinovirus or adenovirus, which both cause cold-like symptoms.
His team partner, virology expert Niina Ikonen from the Finnish National Institute for Health and Welfare, added: "The results also provide new ideas for technical improvements in airport design and refurbishment". The study, reported in the journal BMC Infectious Diseases, found that "plastic security screening trays appeared to pose the highest potential risk" of communicating viral ailments such as the common cold. "These boxes typically cycle with high frequency to subsequent passengers, and are typically seized with a wide palm surface area and strong grip".
PETA-whose motto reads, in part, that "animals are not ours to eat"-notes that mad cow disease was found in the U.S.as recently as this summer".
A United Airlines flight attendant drops her shoes into a plastic tray as she prepares to pass through a security checkpoint in the United Airlines terminal at O'Hare International Airport in Chicago, Illinois on May 11, 2005.
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What's the most germ-filled spot in an airport?
They took surface and air samples from the playground, pharmacy, handrails, and passport control points.
Surfaces that are cleaned on a routine basis, such as toilet lids, actually had quite low respiratory virus counts, the researchers found.
In these cases, the scientists concluded, the best approach might be the simplest one: a good old-fashioned wipedown.
Hand sanitisation would not eliminate the risk of contamination entirely, but would be effective for targeting viruses including influenza.
According to the paper, the boxes are extra germy because they're touched by nearly everyone at the airport - and unlike the toilets, they're rarely cleaned.