The study attempted to map the location of germs in the average airport, and the biggest virus hotspot isn't what you're thinking.
You might want to throw a bottle of sanitizer into that clear plastic bag next time you head for airport security.
The security trays were especially germ-ridden, in part because they are handled by almost every traveller who passes through the airport, researchers said. One sample (of 7) from stair handrails was positive for coronavirus OC43. A study has revealed a dirty truth: airports are teeming with viruses that cause respiratory diseases.
A new study of Finland's major airport has found the commonly-used tray surfaces could put travellers at risk of contracting a respiratory virus. The unlikely suspects that are hotspots for illnesses include plastic toys in the children's playground, the buttons of the payment terminal at the in-house pharmacy, and the passenger side desk at the passport control point.
Viral contamination of standard passenger pathways and procedures in an airport - such as security screening trays - "have the potential to be especially problematic if a severe pathogen with an indirect transmission mechanism were to pose a threat for global spread", the researchers note.
His team partner, virology expert Niina Ikonen from the Finnish National Institute for Health and Welfare, added: "The results also provide new ideas for technical improvements in airport design and refurbishment".
"Many cleaning agents, household (antibacterial) wipes and anti-viral tissues are able to rapidly render influenza virus nonviable, offering multiple simple possibilities and opportunities for reducing the risk of indirect contact transmission", the scientists said.
"This study supports the case for improved public awareness of how viral infections spread", said Jonathan Van Tram, a professor of health protection from the school of medicine at the University of Nottingham in a statement.
A 2015 study from Travelmath reported that the tray table was the No. 1 offender, with overhead air vents also among the most germ-filled surfaces.