Jet-setters, backpackers, hotel aficionados beware — your carefree travel from point A to point B may not be so innocent after all. There are germs lurking on the check-in counter at the airport, on the subway seat during your morning commute, and on the ice bucket in your hotel room. If you've watched the movie Contagion, you'll most likely already be on high germ alert. Here are are five bacteria-thriving spots travelers should take extra precaution to protect themselves against.
- Airports: As soon as you arrive at the airport, you'll come in contact with the check-in counter and ticket kiosk — both of which are covered in bacteria and possibly even mold. Just think of the thousands (possibly millions) of people who have touched these areas before you. Try wiping the kiosk ticket monitor with an antibacterial hand wipe to make sure it's clean before using, or wash your hands afterward as soon as possible.
And to avoid athlete's foot or other fungal infections when walking through the security checkpoint, wear socks (or bring some if you're wearing sandals) — just don't go barefoot! Staphylococcus aureus has been discovered in these checkpoints.
Keep reading to see what other locations made the list.
- Airplanes: Although airplanes are said to use special HEPA filters to trap airborne viruses, 15 percent of commercial airlines still lack these filters. It hasn't been proven that poor airplane ventilation leads to disease, but airplanes do increase your susceptibility to infection because of their low-humid, pressurized air. Sitting near the front of the plane can remedy this since that's where the ventilation systems on most commercial aircraft provide better air flow.
Either bring your own water on the plane, or stick with bottled water. The Environmental Protection Agency shows that water in airplanes' water tanks can be quite dirty. Out of 7,812 water samples taken from 2,316 aircraft, they found that 2.8 percent were positive for coliform bacteria. Refrain from ordering tea or coffee on a plane, as this is the water often used to make it. Airplane bathrooms are also pretty icky since they are rarely ever thoroughly cleaned between flights, making them a breeding ground for E.coli.
Either avoid the bathroom altogether, or use paper towels when touching areas like the faucets or door handles. And remember to sanitize your hands after leaving the laboratory. Other places to avoid touching on the airplane? The food trays, pillows, and blankets. Here are some natural remedies to help boost your immune system, while flying and remember to stay hydrated by drinking lots of fluids before, during, and after your flight.
- Hotel rooms: Hotel rooms may appear to be clean at first glance, but there are germs hiding in every nook and cranny! If you spot any water stains on the ceiling, or discover peeling wallpaper, staccibotrous (PH), which is a mold that can cause respiratory problems may be present.
Television remotes, alarm clocks, and ice buckets are rarely ever cleaned between guests. Wipe down all of these items with antibacterial wipes before use. Hotel glasses are also quite dirty since the cleaning staff quickly rinses them out after each guest. Make sure you wash them with soap and hot water before use. Fecal-related bacteria has been found on comforters in hotel rooms, so it's best to just remove it from the bed as soon as you arrive. Or fold it in half to prevent any contact with it during your stay. You are the guest, so if the room isn't up to your standards, ask for a different room, or go to another hotel — it's not worth risking your health for!
- Cruise ships: You may think that cruise ships would be a safe haven from germs since you're out on the open water, but guess again. You are in one confined space for one, possibly two weeks, with hundreds to thousands of strangers, which increases the chance of communicable diseases being present. A popular virus that tends to spread on cruise ships is called "noroviruses."
This virus is like the stomach flu since it causes nausea, vomiting, and stomach cramps. Noroviruses spread very quickly since you just have to touch a contaminated surface and then touch your mouth to become infected. The Centers for Disease Control closely monitors norovirus outbreaks on cruise ships, and provides up-to-date health reports on all ships sailing from US ports. To help protect yourself from noroviruses, make sure you are constantly washing your hands and using hand sanitizers. And just like on airplanes and in airports, if you know a surface has been touched and not properly cleaned before you come in contact with it, wipe it down with an antibacterial wipe.
- Trains and subways: Germs live on surfaces for hours and thrive in moist environments for days. On trains and subways, you can't be too careful when it comes to germ control. Make sure you don't touch the handrails, the seats, or anything else that doesn't belong to you (like a folded newspaper another traveler left behind). If you do have to hold onto a handrail for safety, do not put it back into your pocket as you are just transferring the bacteria to your clothing, and your pocket may be where you put your keys or cell phone later.
Try sitting in the end of the train where there are fewer people. Fewer people equals less germs. Carry hand sanitizer and wipes if you do come in contact with one of the above surfaces, and make sure you wash your hands when you arrive at your destination!
Now it's time to see the five germiest places at the gym.
Source: Flickr User Meri Tosh