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Airplane Germ Zones

By HERWriter
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Wellness related image Photo: Getty Images

According to AAA, more than 2.75 million consumers are expected to fly during this holiday season. Not only will consumers be flying the friendly skies but so will their germs.

According to CNN, there are several germ zones on airplanes. If you and your family are flying this holiday season, here are some health tips to avoid these plane germ zones.

• Purchase your own water to bring on the plane and do not use the airplane ice.

For the last six years, airplane water has been under review by the EPA due to traces of E.coli. E. coli causes severe stomach cramps. Some airlines have been known to fill fliers' glasses from the tank when bottled water runs out. Also, in a random testing of 327 aircraft some water samples tested positive for E. coli. Also, note that coffee and tea brewed on planes does not typically reach hot enough temperatures to kill E. coli.

The good news is in October 2011, the EPA's Aircraft Drinking Water Rule, with more standardized, stringent disinfection and inspection regulations, will go into effect.

• Don't wash your hands after using the airplane bathroom. Use sanitizer.

The tiny airline lavatory is breeding ground for all kinds of germs and viruses, especially on the door handle. The CDC cited the lavatory as a major danger area for the spread of disease during the H1N1 flu and SARS epidemics. When leaving the lavatory, use a paper towel to close the toilet lid before flushing. Leave without washing your hands. The sink water comes from the airplanes tank. You'll come away cleaner if you skip the sink and use a hand sanitizer instead.

• Bring Lysol disinfectant wipes to sanitize the tray table. Bring extra Band-Aids.

A University of Arizona researcher tested tray tables from three major airliners and 60 percent tested positive for the superbug Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA)! MRSA is often fatal once contracted and it kills an estimated 20,000 Americans annually.

Use Lysol disinfecting wipes to clean off your tray table before and after use. This brand is the most reliable to kill MRSA. Also, never eat directly off the surface. Use Band-Aids to protect any cuts. Open skin and cuts are the most common way of contracting the MRSA infection.

• Do not store items in the seat pocket.

Bring a small, easily accessible carry-on bag so that you can avoid stashing things in the seat pocket. If you must use it, keep magazines and other items within a plastic bag for protection.

Rummaging into the seat pocket is the same as putting your hand in someone else's purse and rifling through their used tissues and gum wrappers. Cold and influenza viruses can survive for hours on fabric and tissues, and even longer (up to 48 hours) on nonporous surfaces like plastic and metal.

With the sky rocketing costs of health care, it's more important than ever to protect yourself against illness.


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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.