Travelers warned of flu germs at airports

Study: More flu-causing germs at airports than average home's bathroom, kitchen

By Erik Avanier - Reporter

File photo

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - There's a health alert for people traveling through airports.

If you've recently become ill with the flu while traveling, there is a good chance you may have contracted the flu virus at an airport.

Fractl, a marketing and research company based in South Florida, recently conducted a study at three major airports, which found there are more flu-causing germs at airports than in the average home's bathroom and kitchen. 

The next time you come to the airport and use one of the self-service check-in kiosks, be sure to have hand sanitizer with you because the recent study has shown there are more germs on the machines and other areas of the airport that can get you infected with the flu.

According to the study, self-service Fcheck-in kiosks are dirty with germs because of how many hands touch them. 

Next on the list are bench armrests found in gate terminals. The study shows armrests can have more bacteria than a toilet seat.

"I think it's disgusting," said Jennifer Welden, a traveler from North Carolina who was at the Jacksonville International Airport on Monday.

Although airport water fountains are routinely cleaned, thousands of unclean hands are still touching the buttons. Airport water fountains were also on the list of surfaces that can get you sick. 

Many travelers told News4Jax that weren't aware of the dangers.

"I don't really think about it, to be honest," said Brad Leathaid, a traveler from New Zealand.

But others were aware and came prepared.

"I have my Clorox wipes in my bag," Hanifa Muhammad, a traveler from Utah, said. "(I came prepared) because all this flu going around. There's an epidemic right now."

The study also found enough germs in airplane cabins to get you sick. The germs were found on seatbelts, tray tables and lavatory flush handles. 

"I got alcohol wipes for the tray table. I'm one of those people. I asked my husband if I could bring my Lysol spray, but he says they won't let me bring that," said Angel Denkar, a traveler from Fort Lauderdale.

Welden, the traveler from North Carolina, added, "We carry the hand sanitizer with us. We have wipes we use on the plane to clean off the seat belts, lights and all the buttons and gadgets."

Although plastic bins at security check points were not on the study list, you should still wash or sanitize your hands after using them because more than a thousand hands are touching the bins every single day and you never know what could be on them.

Other surfaces not on the study list were escalator conveyer belts and ATM touch screens. Thousands of hands touch those surfaces every day at airports.

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