Invisible crew: microorganisms in the means of transport
The vast majority of the population uses public transport such as buses and planes on a daily basis, all in a hurry to reach their destination. However, we never stop to ask ourselves who was the last person to occupy that seat or who grabbed that bar.
However, when we learn that, according to several studies, a person touches his or her mouth, nose, eyes and ears about three times every five minutes and that children do so ten times every five minutes, we understand that it is important to know, since the risk of acquiring potentially pathogenic microorganisms is very high.
Moreover, if we consider that when a person sneezes he/she expels the saliva drops at approximately one hundred and twenty kilometers per hour, at a distance of one meter, we realize that it is difficult to escape from inhaling some saliva drops full of microorganisms that in a matter of hours or days can cause us a respiratory infection.
According to scientific studies, public transport is a space that concentrates a high quantity of bacteria and fungi that can cause diarrheal, respiratory, and even allergic infections. According to these studies, bathrooms in bus stations contain millions of coliform bacteria, mainly Escherichia coli, which could cause diarrhea.
As regards contact surfaces (reclining tables, seats, and safety bars), the presence of Staphylococcus aureus, a bacterium that can cause skin infections, has been reported.
The respiratory viruses that have been identified in means of transport are the influenza virus and the coronavirus; they survive for more than 24 hours on contact surfaces (bars, seats, and reclining tables).
Fungi produce spores that are commonly suspended in the air and that we inhale when we enter the means of transport. These cause allergic reactions.
The greatest risk of contagion is when people use portable equipment (mobile phones, tablets, and computers), which are placed in spaces possibly contaminated or touched by us.
These are some recommendations to minimize the risk of infection in public transportation:
Carry alcohol-based gel
Rub the surfaces you will come into contact with. Wipes impregnated with disinfectants work well
Rub hands with alcohol-based gel before using any personal equipment
Stay away from people with flu-like symptoms (sneezing, runny nose, etc.)
Avoid touching your face, mouth, nose, eyes, and ears
Keeping microorganisms away from our environment prevents disease. Cleaning and disinfecting contact surfaces is an appropriate measure to minimize the risk.