Wall Street Journal: Burning Question: Do Germs Spread on Airport Security Lines?

Discussion in 'Aviation Passenger Security in the USA' started by Mike, Aug 20, 2012.

  1. Mike

    Mike Founding Member Coach

    This bozo completely misses it. My concern is not the floor or the bins but those infamous blue glove that go from one person's crotch to the next person's hair, etc., without ever being changed unless someone forces them to change them. Once minute they're pawing someone's dirty undies in a carry-on, the next minute those same gloves are giving you a scalp massage.

    Somebody should ask this bozo Dr. William Schaffner if he would do multiple patient examinations wearing the same pair of gloves.

    Wall Street Journal: Burning Question: Do Germs Spread on Airport Security Lines?

    For the most part, however, those bacteria are harmless since we all have immunities against them. Simple hygiene—showering, washing hands—"will keep the bad guys at bay," he says. Same goes for the barefoot march through airport security. The risk of catching athlete's foot or another fungus from fellow travelers is very low ... Those dirty bins—where you might set your mobile phone in the same spot a road warrior just put his smelly shoes—may carry some of the typical bacteria circulating around us, but again, the risk of infection is likely to be very low.
  2. Mike

    Mike Founding Member Coach

    Here's the bozo:


    William Schaffner, M.D., chair, Department of Preventive Medicine, Vanderbilt University Medical Center
    Schaffner is one of the country’s leading experts on infectious diseases, with more than 30 years public health experience. He is often used as the preferred source on a wide array of topics including cold and flu, mumps, bird flu and H1N1. Also a leading expert on vaccinations, Schaffner is a member of the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices and is the current president of the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases. He is a consultant with the Tennessee Department of Health on issues of public health and can also discuss how biological agents could be used as weapons.
    • Phone: (615) 322-4747
  3. Even with his arguments about the bins and the floor, I so don't buy it. It's one thing to expose yourself to some germs, yet another to be forced to touch things that everyone and anyone, potentially from all over the world, has touched and put their stuff, in a situation when people are rushed and stressed and known to be susceptible to sickness, in what seems to be a health code and OSHA-free zone. Plus, he doesn't deal with the issue of people of different populations needing to protect themselves from germs: babies, the elderly, pregnant women, people with compromised immune systems, etc. I think I'm going to make a point of wiping out bins if I ever fly again. Really make a scene of it too and hold up the line, just to be that way.

    Plus, this is asinine:

    Is there anything in the medical literature where they've actually studied these areas, and what happens when you go through them? Such a logical fallacy there.

    What bothers me especially is that this is not an op ed piece -- this was written by a reporter, who apparently saw no need to seek out a contrary opinion, someone who probably would have brought up the issue of gloves being changed hardly ever. Very disappointed in the WSJ here.
    Doober and Elizabeth Conley like this.
  4. TravelnMedic

    TravelnMedic Original Member

    Hey Doc need me to call OB to get the forceps to pull your head out of your (expletive deleted) as my swabs say otherwise. Hepatitis, MRA, VRE and MDRO harmless hmm I may only be a paramedic but I think you need to go back to school on infectious disease and transmissions pathways.
  5. Doober

    Doober Original Member

    My son had MRSA several years ago and on occasion, when he is stressed, it will surface. He is extremely careful when he has an open wound. When he was hospitalized with his first outbreak, I specifically asked his doctor about airports and disease transmission. (This was shortly after the shoe bomber and the "shoes off" requirement was fairly new.) IIRC, the doctor told me that diseases were, in all likelihood, being spread at TSA checkpoints.

    I recall TravelnMedic's list of bad bugs found at checkpoints and even now it makes me shudder.

    Phoebepontiac's point about travelers from all over the world, from places with diseases we never see, is an excellent one that the good doctor totally ignored.

    I am willing to bet that the TSA has killed more than a few people but until it is possible to track exactly where someone picked up a fatal condition, TSA's procedures will not be linked to those deaths.
  6. barbell

    barbell Coach Coach

    Completely anecdotal, but I have a former coworker who is now a TSA screener.

    I found out via the Facebook when she told me to "get over yourself" on an anti-TSA rant when grope and scope began. We are, of course, no longer "friends".

    However, prior to that she was constantly posting about all of the little colds and mystery flues and other not feeling wells she seemed to always have. When we worked together previously, she was never sick. Never. While working at TSA she seems to have developed a steady stream of illness.

    Let's be honest here, the most likely candidates for these jobs are not the pinnacle of health by any definition. The employees of TSA are, by definition, at higher risk of contracting illness. And then they're just going to spread it around.

    More to phoebepontiac's point, part of my doctor schooling included classes in both infectious disease and public health. In both of those courses there was extensive discussion about the role of air travel, and airports in particular, in spreading disease.

    Seems maybe Vanderbilt needs to update their curriculum?
  7. Caradoc

    Caradoc Original Member

    Or at least update their faculty.
  8. TravelnMedic

    TravelnMedic Original Member

    Doober - yeah that list does and I work in healthcare. Then thanks to LAX T4 CP cesspool that caused me to loose all the skin on my hands and disfigure the patterns on my hand & fingers in more then a few places almost 6 years ago. I'd go dig the list up to quote but I'm coming off 12 hours in dickscratch ... I mean dispatch (oops looks like filter broke again) and I'm about to pass out. I'll dig them up when I get up.

    MRSA is one nasty bug and pretty much anyone in the population that has been hospitalized for more then 48 hrs has. I haven't had a swab come up positive yet, but if it does would not surprise me at all. Im very conscientious about about bsi (body substance isolation) and PPE (personal protective equipment) so as to not cross contaminate or expose anyone.

    Sounds like hes doing pretty good, those flares can be nasty, but if he cam manage the stress he should do well.

    Barbell - I'll second all of that, and the "no longer a friend" the little colds are nothing, but looks like Karma has bitten back already, and a case of "don't say I didn't warn you"
    Elizabeth Conley likes this.
  9. Here's a good observation from the comments in the article:


    Also, I think someone in the comments quoted TravelnMedic:

  10. TravelnMedic

    TravelnMedic Original Member

    Phoebepontiac - Thank you Im just now getting going at work... walked into a :trash: storm at handover... Its going to be one of those nights. I just saw that comment in the article and made me smile especially since they added in the TSA not responding to emails / questions and posts being deleted from the blog part.

    I wish I had that contact to have swabs done/cultured (person no longer works for that lab let alone lives in this country) now just to see how much or little things have changed since the last set was done in late 2010. I did find the sheets with the pathology reports and when I read them again briefly and made my skin crawl. The "few other nasties" reads like USAMRIID greatest hits.
    Elizabeth Conley likes this.

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