Wednesday 20 September 2017

International study exposes just how disgusting airport toilets truly are

Drug-resistant bacteria from an individual traveller could be transferred to inanimate surfaces and then picked up by others
Drug-resistant bacteria from an individual traveller could be transferred to inanimate surfaces and then picked up by others
Eilish O'Regan

Eilish O'Regan

Airports are international travel hubs visited by large numbers of people. Dublin airport has millions arriving and departing from all over the world.

Now a study published in the journal Clinical Microbiology and Infection suggests that international travellers can pick up antibiotic-resistant bacteria and may spread these bacteria in their home countries after returning from abroad.

Dublin airport has millions of visitors every year
Dublin airport has millions of visitors every year

It seems plausible that drug-resistant bacteria from an individual traveller could be transferred to inanimate surfaces and then picked up by others, but studying and quantifying this is fraught with problems.

As part of the research everyone involved travelled internationally and passed through an airport, they swabbed the surface of an internal airport toilet door, preserving the swab for later culture when they returned to the lab.

The study demonstrates that travel through airports does have the potential to introduce antibiotic-resistant bacteria on to surfaces that could pose a public health risk.

During the course of the study, 400 toilet door handles in 136 airports in 59 countries were sampled in this way. 60pc of the samples were taken in the men's room with 40pc in the women's toilets and, on average, the time between sampling and culture in the lab was seven days.

Samples were taken in the airport of arrival (80.75pc) a stop-off point (2.75pc), or the destination (16.5pc).

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