How to avoid Spring Break travelers' germs

Monday - 3/7/2011, 7:15am EST

WASHINGTON -- Spring Break can be a tough time for germaphobes, particularly when traveling by air. Fortunately, there are some easy tips to stay healthy while sharing tight quarters with those bound for Cancun.

Unsurprisingly, airplane lavatories are the grossest, with a high likelihood of bacteria on seats and handles.

They are "hands-down the germiest place on the trip," Peter Sheldon, vice president of operations and development for Coverall Health-Based Cleaning System, tells USA Today.

"Numerous studies have shown that these are teeming with E. coli on almost every surface."

They are also rarely sanitized and have "the cumulative effect of hundreds of users." The size of the sink also makes it difficult to thoroughly wash your hands, he says.

Other than the obvious solution of avoiding the bathrooms altogether, Sheldon says, it's a good idea to bring your own sanitary wipes, and use paper towels to touch anything in there.

Seats and tray tables are another germ hotspot. Among the worst horror stories are mothers changing their babies right where later passengers put their pretzels and peanuts. Some disinfectant there could go a long way.

The recent scare of the 27-year-old woman diagnosed with measles who flew from Britain to Washington Dulles International Airport in February is good reminder to exercise healthy caution of fellow travelers.

The enclosure of an airplane cabin is "particularly risky for airborne-spread diseases" such as measles, Physician Martin Myers, director of the National Network for Immunization Information, tells USA Today.

The simplest solution to this specific incident, or other potential exposure to contagious diseases, is to get immunized, Myers says. Not rubbing your eyes or touching your nose or mouth helps too.

For more information on potential traveler health risks and tips, check out the full article.

WTOP's Andrew Mollenbeck contributed to this report.

Follow WTOP on Twitter.

(Copyright 2011 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)