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Flying The Filthy Skies: New Research Shows That Bacteria Thrives In Airplane Cabins

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NEW YORK(CBSNewYork) — Germs may not be the biggest worry for some air travelers, but maybe they should be.

Bacteria can linger on airplane surfaces much longer than most people think, according to new research.

As CBS 2′s Dick Brennan reported, airplane cabins are known to be a hotbed for germs, and test results from research done at Auburn University might gross you out.

“In our study MRSA and e-coli survived for over a week,” Dr. Kiril Vaglenov said.

Researchers exposed six airplane surfaces to both bacteria. The exposed surfaces included arm rests, leather seats, tray tables, seat pockets, window shades, and toilet handles.

Seat-back pockets were the worst offenders, MRSA lasted in that location for 7 days. E-coli lasted on the unavoidable armrest for 4 days.

Travelers did not appear shocked by the news.

“I’m not surprised. I try not to focus on that stuff though otherwise I’m not gonna go anywhere,” Anneke Hiatt said.

Dry air in the cabin allows bacteria to hang around longer, according to experts.

To combat the bacteria experts say good hygiene and common sense are essential, they also suggested taking a shower after getting off of the plane.

The study was partly funded by the FAA. Airlines are working on strategies to minimize the risk, according to researchers. They plan to focus on effective cleaning and disinfecting strategies for future studies.

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