Händehygiene an Flughäfen von Bedeutung
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Infection prevention at airports

New study points to importance of hand hygiene in air traffic.

Each day, airports around the world see millions of passengers travelling to and from multiple countries. Whether they are travelling a long distance, or a short one, these passengers are looking for comfortable, efficient and safe travel accommodation. Having so many people pass through a relatively confined airport space, it is inevitable that passengers will come into contact with a wide variety of germs, bacteria and viruses.

A new study conducted by a team of Finnish and British scientists has analyzed locations where the risk of infection is particularly high. One of the airports examined in the study was the Helsinki-Vantaa Airport, where swab samples were taken from stair railings, trolley handles, children’s playgrounds, plastic trays from the security area, touch screens and toilets and were then examined for pathogens.

Surprising findings

Airport security check. Importance of hand hygiene
Airport security check.

The researchers found that the plastic trays at the security checkpoints posed the greatest risk as most of the viruses that could cause repertory infections were detected here. In this area, passengers have no choice but to come into contact with the trays. One reason for the surprising result was that the plastic trays are generally cleaned less frequently than toilets or handrails.

In addition to observing common hygiene rules, such as not touching your face with unwashed hands, the scientists recommend adequate hand hygiene to reduce the risk of infection. It was also noted that particular attention should be paid to a thorough cleaning of the hands during each visit to the washroom. Additional opportunities for hand disinfection at strategic points within the airport can be considered to be a sensible measure to protect against infection.

Source: Ikonen et al. Deposition of respiratory virus pathogens on frequently touched surfaces at airports BMC Infectious Diseases (2018)

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