Diseases A Person Could Get Just By Stepping Onto an Airplane

Without a doubt, air travel via airplanes is one of the fastest and safest modes of transportation to reach from one place to another. While there is no denying the benefits of airplanes, they also happen to be a great place where one gets many diseases. Airplanes are actually like an ideal breeding ground for bacteria in a space that is completely enclosed and is filled with people who might not have washed their hands, covered their mouths or might not have taken certain medication for any viral disease.


Whenever a person steps on an International airport, he is surrounded by people from all across the globe. The thing is you are not only surrounded by people but with germs from all across the world. An infectious disease physician at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center; Dr. Amesh Adalja told media in a small statement, “Like any place of mass congregation, it’s a viral exchange center.”

Today we present to you a list of some diseases that a person is at risk as soon as they just step on an airplane.



MRSA or medically known as Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus is a type of infectious bacteria that is potent enough to fight off a majority of antibiotics. The most common resting place of the bacteria is human skin and until they multiply they are almost harmless. However, after they start multiplying, they can rapidly increase their population and can become quite contagious.

Nearly 1 to 2 percent of world population might be the carrier of MRSA. Once the bacteria enter the bloodstream of a person through a cut or a sore, they can prove pretty lethal to health.

As for airplanes, when tray tables from airplanes of three major airlines in the world were tested, it was found that nearly 60 percent of them were contaminated with MRSA. The study also concluded that MRSA can naturally survive for almost 168 hours on seat pocket and for three days on window shades of airplanes.



Influenza is not a pretty disease as it is accompanied by symptoms like the following.

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Body aches
  • Extreme lack of energy

A flu virus is able to travel through the air in droplets. So when an airplane, a person suffering from flu sneezes, their flu viruses get airborne and travel across the entire cabin.

The thing that makes flu virus lethal on an airplane is because, on the plastic and metal surfaces of the airplane, the flu virus can survive up to 48 hours.

The best tip to avoid getting flu on an airplane is to avoid using things inside the seat pocket like magazines.

Blood Clots

Blood Clots

Blood Clots or medically known as “deep vein thrombosis” (DVT) is something that occurs when blood flow is suddenly interrupted to an extreme degree or completely stops. In the airplane, this condition usually occurs in legs of the passengers as the seats are cramped in economy class. The little space causes minimum mobility for a long period of time, thus causing blood clots in legs.

Although most cases of DVT dissipate on their own, they still cause pain and swelling. In extreme cases, they might break off and travel to the lungs via blood vessels and result in PE (Pulmonary Embolism).

To prevent this condition, try wearing compression socks before a flight and try to move your legs as much as possible in-flight.



Pneumonia infection results in the inflammation of the lungs with symptoms like the following.

  • Chest pain
  • Wheezing
  • Nausea
  • Fever
  • Fatigue

If by any chance you start getting cold during flight, then refrain from asking the flight attendant for blankets. A survey revealed that airlines usually clean their blankets only after 5 to 30 days. These airlines blankets are also breeding ground for bacteria and viruses that can cause lung and eye infections. As for the pillowcases of an airplane, they can be the leading cause for pneumonia and gastrointestinal bleeding.

Gastrointestinal Illness

Gastrointestinal Illness

Nowadays, there is no such thing as a complimentary meal on the airplane, unless if by chance you are traveling first class. In that case, there is not much to worry about.

A sudden survey from FDA found out that LSG Sky Chefs; the world’s leading airplane caterer company, was found to be making food for airplanes in places infested with roaches and other vermin. As for chefs, they were making food in these unsanitary conditions with their hands.

The food prepared in such conditions is also contaminated with ‘Listeria monocytogenes’ a bacteria which can result in gastrointestinal illness and meningitis.



Meningitis is a condition which causes the inflammation of the membranes of the brain and spinal cord. The condition is accompanied by symptoms like the following.

  • Headache
  • Stiff neck
  • Fever

In most cases, the cause of this infection is due to viruses contracted from airplanes.

Although meningitis viruses are only contracted by nasal and throat discharges of the infected person, this makes the chance of getting the virus very slim but still not zero.

According to an investigation it was found that meningitis viruses are mostly found on airline blankets. To avoid getting infected with this scary disease, it is recommended to bring your own blanket or coat on a flight.



According to the world’s top leading health organization WHO, nearly one-third of the world population is infected by the bacteria called Mycobacterium tuberculosis that results in Tuberculosis (TB).

TB bacteria normally travel through the air in water droplets. If a person sitting next to you with active infectious TB bacteria sneezes or coughs, it puts you seriously at risk of contracting the disease in its full severity.

E. Coli

E. Coli

Using an airplane lavatory is like giving an invitation to myriad bacteria and viruses to enter your bloodstream with most lethal being E.Coli, fecal bacteria. While most of E.Coli bacteria are harmless; some of their strains are particularly lethal and can lead to the following conditions.

  • Abdominal cramps
  • Bloody diarrhea
  • Vomiting

The bacteria on an airplane are found in the aircraft’s lavatory and most prominently on the following surfaces.

  • Sinks
  • flush handles
  • door handles
  • Toilet seats

To avoid getting the infection, always use a paper towel to close the toilet lid and before entering and exiting the lavatory, use hand sanitizer.

Beside bathrooms, E.Coli bacteria have also been found in coffee and water served on an airplane, especially if it comes from a tap. To avoid this situation, only stick to bottled water on an airplane.

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