Disturbing study finds airport areas are full of virus pathogens


There is something to declare at airport security check points — an alarming number of virus pathogens.

A study published last week by a team of Finnish and British epidemiologists found that certain public areas of airports where passenger traffic is high are “hot spots” for spreading respiratory infections. And one of the biggest of those germ-ridden spots were the plastic trays where passengers load their belongings for screening by Transportation Security Administration officers and their counterparts in other countries.

“These viruses mainly spread through droplets when people cough and sneeze as well as through contaminated surfaces,” Niina Ikonen, senior researcher at Finland’s National Institute for Health and Welfare and the lead researcher of the study, told TODAY by email. “People (then) touch the surface that is contaminated with the virus and then touch their mouth, nose and/or eyes.”

“Through this study we have recognized the risk points, which is important during an emerging pandemic threat or severe epidemic,” she wrote.

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