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Airline survival guide

Study shows E. coli, MRSA can survive for days on planes

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Digital writers

Wednesday, May 21, 2014, 10:02 AM - Have you ever felt like you got sick from something you picked up on a plane? This new study confirms those suspicions and our worst fears...Germs are embedded in nearly every surface of an airplane and they can stay there for a long time.

SEE ALSO: Air Canada's first Dreamliner lands in Toronto

Alabama's Auburn University put these germs to the test, looking at how long potentially deadly bacteria including E.Coli and MRSA can live on surfaces within the cabin of a plane.

They found that bacteria lived the longest on the most porous surfaces like the cloth seat pocket -- MRSA lasted seven days there.

On the rubber arm rest and leather seat, MRSA also lived up to six days.

The study found that germs lived for shorter amounts of times on less porous surfaces like tray tables, but here's the catch -- these germs had higher levels of transmittability, meaning they are picked up easier and more likely to transfer to your skin on contact.

For example, the study found that E. Coli lived on the plastic tray table for three days and the steel toilet handle for two days. MRSA lived on the plastic window shade for five days.

If this has your skin crawling, one microbiology professor suggests taking precautions to protect yourself when flying. Bringing hand sanitizer and alcohol wipes with you on the plane can help, along with wiping down everything including your hands before you eat anything.

The study was supported by funds from the Federal Aviation Administration and the Airliner Cabin Environment Research Center.

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