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Avoid Germs On Your Summer Travels!

Avoid Germs On Your Summer Travels!

Most of us don’t want to think too much about what all we could be exposed to when we travel, especially when it comes to the super-scary contaminant king E.coli. But it’s everywhere – on transportation, at schools, and even in the sanctuary of our own (seemingly clean) home.

In truly disturbing news, two researchers recently discovered that certain pathogens – of which E.coli is one – can linger on airplane surfaces for days. Considering the number of people who could be exposed in a single day, their findings are cause for concern.

James Barbaree, associate director for research at the Auburn University Center for Detection and Food Safety in Auburn, Alabama, and his colleague Kiril Vaglenov presented their study at the annual meeting of the American Society for Microbiology. They analyzed both MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) and E. coli O157:H7.

What they found was that the plane’s more porous surfaces allowed the pathogens to linger the longest. Specifically, the E. coli O157:H7 survived longest – 96 hours – on material from an airplane armrest. “The porous surfaces…are more protective for the bacteria – cloth, like the pocket cloth on the back of the seat, something like that has a lot of crevices where bacteria can get in,” Barbaree said.

And it’s not just on airplanes; it’s indoor environments, too. So if you’re renting a beach house or sharing lake lodge this summer, keep in mind what germs could be lurking, just waiting to ruin your summer fun!

“People think that the bathroom is the dirtiest place in [a] house,” says Cheryl Luptowski, a Home Safety Expert at the National Sanitation Foundation International (NSF International), an independent public health and environmental organization. “…kitchen[s] [have] the most germs,” she said.

Lupotowski along with University of Arizona-Tucson Professor and Microbiologist Dr. Charles Gerba revealed the 10 dirtiest spots in the average home kitchen. #1 offenders on the list? Sponges and dishcloths. According to the NSF, “more than 75 percent of dish sponges and rags have some sort of coliform bacteria–a family of bacteria that includes Salmonella and E. coli and is an indicator of potential fecal contamination.”

Other places most likely to be teeming with e.coli? The sink, the refrigerator meat compartment, blender gaskets, kitchen countertops, can openers, and rubber spatulas. Running items through a dishwasher, or cleaning with hot, soapy water is key. A bleach and water mixture can also be helpful, as can disinfectants designed for kitchen use.

And ladies? Careful where you set those handbags. Dr. Gerba found the unthinkable on the ubiquitous fashion staple. “We found fecal bacteria you normally find on the floor of restroom,” he said. “We found bacteria that can cause skin infections on the bottom of purses. What’s more amazing is the large numbers we find on the bottom of purses, which indicates that they can be picking up a lot of other germs like cold viruses or viruses that cause diarrhea.” When at all possible, place handbags on a hook or in an adjacent chair rather than on the floor. It’s worth nothing that leather and vinyl purses are less susceptible than ones made of cloth.

Vigilance and a little simple hand washing can go a long way in warding off E.coli-based illness. For a more thorough approach, using specially-designed air purifiers (some travel-sized!), fabric protectants, and microbial barriers can add an extra layer of protection to your home.

Our pick:

Vollara’s FreshAir Mobile is portable and perfect for cars, trucks, R.Vs. or campers!


The FreshAir Focus plugs into any outlet — making it great for hotel rooms or when traveling!

Our FreshAir Personal is a wearable unit that removes airborne contaminants and allergens from the air immediately around your body. Take it on the plane with you!

MRSA Outbreaks Call For Protection and Prevention

MRSA Outbreaks Call For Protection and Prevention


As a topic, new MRSA cases seem to remain front and center in the news – becoming more widespread within professional sports locker rooms, schools, hospitals and now in the safety of your own home. And while researchers have found a cure to kill MRSA cells, prevention really is the ideal preference. Why? Because MRSA infections are on the rise and worrisome to many doctors.


“We are no longer fighting just a germ. We are fighting a piece of DNA that moves easily from one bacteria in our intestine to another,” said Dr. Scott Stienecker, medical director of epidemiology and infection prevention and director of infectious disease services at Parkview Health in Ft. Wayne, Indiana.[1]


And Kim Lewis, Distinguished Professor of Biology and Director of Northeastern’s Antimicrobial Discovery Center, echoes Stienecker’s sentiments. He explains how the specialized class of cells within MRSA have evolved to survive. “Sur­vival is their only func­tion,” he said. “They don’t do any­thing else.”


Besides hygiene cautions one can take to eliminate the risk of contracting MRSA, there are also environmental safeguards that can be enacted, especially within the home.


Per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, at least 2 million people become infected with bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics each year in the United States, and at least 23,000 people die as a direct result of these infections.[2]


The CDC suggests that disinfectants are most likely to be effective against MRSA, and notes that “most will have a list of germs on the label that the product can destroy.” The CDC goes on to note that when disinfecting, it’s important to focus on surfaces that come into contact with bare skin. Doorknobs, faucets, athletic training benches and equipment, and light switches all fall into this category. [3]


There are products available that can continually treat the air and surfaces in your personal residence, which helps greatly reduce the chances of contamination.