(Section Sponsored by MedjetAssist)
As the Ebola crisis has more and more travelers aware of health concerns during international flights, we asked John F. Gobbels, VP and transport expert of MedjetAssist (the premier global air-medical transport membership program for travelers; a supplement to travel insurance) to address a lesser (but equally critical) issue that has been on the front pages recently.
Newly released studies on airline seats, seat backs, and tray tables show that alarming amounts of potentially illness-bearing pathogens can live for a long time in flight.
The study, conducted by Auburn University on behalf of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), found that MRSA germs can survive for up to 168 hours on cloth seatback pouches. E. coli (which can cause urinary tract infections and food poisoning) lives up to 96 hours on armrests, 72 hours on tray tables, and for two whole days on airline toilets.
Gobbels says that Medjet has found this first-line of infection to be a critical one to stop before it gets started.
“You’d be surprised at how many of our members have started out with simple issues like diarrhea or stomach flu, which may have initially come from contact with germs like this in flight,” he says.
“Once they landed and got sicker, the issue escalated and they required our service (air-medical transport to a home hospital) but their illnesses may have been preventable with some simple steps.”
Gobbels advises travelers to use antiseptic wipes. “Open up those individual packages and wipe down everything you can in front of you,” he says. “The tray table, the seat arms and even the seat belt.”
Gobbels says that this simple step can make the difference between a healthy trip and a costly—and potentially life-threatening—detour.