AUBURN, AL (WTVM) - Researchers at Auburn University have found that disease causing bacteria can linger on surfaces in an airplane cabin for much longer than it takes to get to your final destination.
"In our Study these MRSA and E. Coli survived for over a week," explains AU Graduate Student, Kiril Vaglenov.
Vaglenov conducted a two year study to determine how long E. Coli and MRSA would survive on commonly touched surfaces.
They tested the armrests, the seat, the plastic tray table, the seat back pocket, the window shade and toilet handle.
MRSA survived the longest, 168 hours on the seat back pocket, while E. Coli lived for 96 hours on the armrests.
"I'm really kind of disgusted to be honest that you can pick up these things by putting your arm on an armrest," says Auburn resident, Lauren Williams.
Researchers say travelers should be aware of the risk, reminding passengers to practice good personal hygiene.
"They should use some type of alcohol type sanitizer," explains AU Professor and Project Director, Jim Barbaree.
"I guess I'll just wash my hands a lot, I mean a lot and take some hand sanitizer. I don't think I'd go as far as those people who wear masks at the airport, but I'll definitely take some extra precautions," says Auburn resident, Colton Smith.
The research was funded through a Federal Aviation Administration Cooperative Agreement.
Experts say airlines are working on strategies to minimize the risk.