Snippet from the article:
Disease-causing bacteria can linger on surfaces commonly found in airplane cabins for days, even up to a week, according to research presented at the annual meeting of the American Society for Microbiology.
“Many air travelers are concerned about the risks of catching a disease from other passengers given the long time spent in crowded air cabins,” says Kiril Vaglenov, of Auburn University who presented the data. “This report describes the results of our first step in investigating this potential problem.”
In order for disease-causing bacteria to be transmitted from a cabin surface to a person, it must survive the environmental conditions in the airplane. In the study Vaglenov and his colleagues tested the ability of two pathogens, methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and E. coli O157:H7 to survive on surfaces commonly found in airplanes. They obtained six different types of material from a major airline carrier (armrest, plastic tray table, metal toilet button, window shade, seat pocket cloth, and leather), inoculated them with the bacteria and exposed them to typical airplane conditions.
I believe that an additional study needs to be done on hair recirculation on airlines. If one person has a flu type syndrome or other diseases such as tuberculosis, the diseases are spread as the air recirculates in the airplane. How many times have you had a friend or family member get sick after flying? Should our fear of flying extend to these situations?