How to travel without getting sick
If you've got travel plans coming up, you know you need to watch out for the flu.
But that's not the only little nasty out to get you right now!
A new study looks at some of the germs you'll find on aircraft and in airports any time of year... and let's just say that it's enough to make you want to cancel your travel plans and stay home.
Just about every surface you might touch from the moment you arrive at the terminal to the moment you land at your destination could be absolutely crawling with pathogens.
Let's start with your arrival at the airport. The study finds that the nastiest places in the whole airport are the touchscreens on the ticket kiosks.
Many boarding passes are now available to download and show on your phone instead of printing them out. So, if you have that option... USE IT!
So many fingers touch those screens, and you don't even want to know where most of them have been: Swab tests found 253,857 colony-forming units of bacteria on the touchscreen surfaces.
How bad is that? A typical bathroom doorknob... touched by people who may or may not always wash their hands... usually has 203 CFUs.
That means that those kiosk screens are about 1,300 times nastier than bathroom doors!
The kiosk screens may have been the worst of the lot, but they're not the only trouble spots.
The tests carried out at multiple airports and on aircraft from multiple airlines also found an average of 21,630 CFUs on the armrests or chairs in waiting areas... and 19,181 on drinking-fountain buttons.
Inside the plane, it wasn't much better.
Those little buttons that noisily flush the toilet contain 95,145 CFUs. And your tray table -- where you place your FOOD -- contains nearly 12,000 CFUs.
Heck, even the belt buckle has more than 1,100 CFUs.
Many types of bacteria are harmless, of course, but many of the germs found in airports and airplanes are not.
One of the most common types discovered was the gram-positive cocci known for pneumonia and infections on the skin and in the ears and sinuses.
It's tempting to cancel your travel plans, but you don't have to turn into a shut-in to stay healthy, whether it's flu season or any other time of year.
You just need to take some common-sense safety precautions: Wash up and wash often, don't rub your eyes or put anything in your mouth unless your hands are clean.
For those times you can't get to some good old soap and water, carry around some hand sanitizer.
And don't forget to load up on immune-boosting antioxidants before traveling, whether it's right now in flu season or any other time of year.