A new study has reaffirmed feared reports that airports silently transport drug resistant bacteria between destinations. Surprisingly, many of these nasties can be found on toilet door handles. Four hundred door handles in 136 airports in 59 countries were sampled. A group of researchers led by Frieder Schaumburg from the University Hospital Munster, Germany, say they have now found drug-resistant bacteria on the handles of toilet doors at various international airports. The results, published in the journal Clinical Microbiology and Infection, show bacteria Staphylococcus aureus was present in 5.5 per cent of the samples.

According to www.stuff.co.nz, a quarter of the S. maltophillia bacteria samples were found to be resistant to trimethoprim, used mainly in the treatment of bladder infections and sulfamethoxazole, used to treat urinary tract and middle ear infections and bronchitis. Two-fifths of the A. baumannii complex were resistant to trimethoprim and sulfamethoxazole but all were susceptible to antibiotic medication that uses quinolones and gentamicin. The S. aureus bacteria found on a toilet door in a Paris airport showed multiple resistance to antibiotics.

According to the World Health Organisation, antibiotic resistance is one of the greatest threats to human health in the 21st century and will cause a projected 10 million deaths annually by 2050. Edition.cnn.com provides us with a full list of the dirtiest places and surfaces on airplanes and at airports according to a study by Travelmath:

1) Tray table: 2,155 CFU/sq. in.

2) Drinking fountain buttons: 1,240 CFU/sq. in.

3) Overhead air vents: 285 CFU/sq. in.

4) Lavatory flush buttons: 265 CFU/sq. in.

5) Seatbelt buckles: 230 CFU/sq. in.

6) Bathroom stall locks: 70 CFU/sq. in.

Professor Jonathan Iredell, an infectious diseases physician and clinical microbiologist from the University of Sydney, says the study highlights that there is a lot of silent transmission of bacteria going on as a result of globalisation and that we must act. Prof Iredell says airports could seriously think about making hand hygiene gel readily available.