Two types of disease-causing bacteria could remain on surfaces in airplane cabins for up to a week, according to a new study. The findings were presented at the annual meeting of the American Society for Microbiology.

Kiril Vaglenov and co-author James Barbaree from Auburn University obtained material from six varying types of material from a major airline carrier (armrest, leather, metal toilet button, plastic tray table, seat pocket cloth, and window shade) and inoculated them with two forms of bacteria while being exposed to common airplane conditions. Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) remained for the longest period of time (168 hours) on the seat pocket cloth, while E. coli O157:H7 remained the longest (96 hours) on the armrest material.

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The researchers plan in their future work to assess effective cleaning and disinfection strategies and surfaces with antimicrobial properties to reduce the presence of disease-causing bacteria.

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