View Full Version : Hotel guests leave plenty of germs behind

09-29-2006, 05:20 PM
We've been having an interesting discussion on sanitary conditions in planes and refilling plastic water bottles at Speaking of drink prices (http://www.tripso.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=9293). This report talks to some of the same issues and is equally interesting.

What do you think about Hotels and Housekeeping and steps you use to stay healthy while traveling?

Originally posted by AP via CNN.com - September 29 2006
Hotel guests leave plenty of germs behind

SAN FRANCISCO, California (AP) -- Hotel guests leave behind more than just socks and old paperbacks: A new study found viruses on TV remotes, light switches and even hotel pens after cold sufferers checked out.

The germ testing was done before the rooms were cleaned, so it probably overstates the risks that most travelers would face. Nevertheless, it shows the potential hazards if a hotel's turnaround amounts to little more than changing the sheets and wiping out the tub.

"You sure hope the cleaning people were good," said Dr. Owen Hendley, the University of Virginia pediatrician who presented results of the study Friday at a meeting of the American Society for Microbiology.

Besides hotel hazards, the findings point out things that people may not think to clean in their homes when someone has a cold.

"We know that viruses can survive on surfaces for a long time -- more than four days," said Dr. Birgit Winther, an ear, nose and throat specialist at the university who led the study.

Its aim was to test the survival of rhinoviruses, which cause about half of all colds, especially in children.

Researchers had 15 people with lab-confirmed rhinovirus colds spend a night in individual rooms at a nearby hotel and, after they checked out, tested 10 items they said they had touched. About one-third of the objects were contaminated with rhinovirus.

"We were surprised to find so many," Winther said.

Virus was found on 7 out of 14 door handles and 6 of 14 pens. Six out of 15 light switches, TV remotes and faucets tested positive, as did 5 of 15 phones. Shower curtains, coffee makers and alarm clocks also harbored viruses.

Surprisingly, virus turned up on only one of the 10 toilet handles tested.

Experts did not test items such as bedspreads because cloth dries out germs, making them far less likely to survive than they do on smooth or moist surfaces...

...Some in the hotel industry say they have strict policies on how to disinfect rooms between guests.

"We do wipe everything down, from the remote control to the telephone," said Michelle Pike, corporate director of housekeeping for Hilton brand hotels, which has 1,900 hotels around the world. Most of them are independently operated but the chain does have rules for disinfection, she said.

Hilton, as many hotels, has taken steps to make common items easier to clean, such as encasing phone books in plastic and replacing bedspreads with duvet covers than can be washed between each guest, she said.

And if germs are lingering on surfaces in hotel rooms, "you can be damn sure it's more likely to happen at home," Hendley said.

To wipe down home surfaces, doorknobs and light switches, "standard household cleaners will be adequate," said Dr. Frederick Hayden, a University of Virginia infectious diseases specialist who had no role in this study but has consulted extensively with companies developing viral vaccines and treatments.

Dr. Stuart Levy, a Tufts University physician who heads the Alliance for Prudent Antibiotic Use, advocates lots of hand washing and not going overboard trying to de-bug your home.

"How clean do you need to be? You don't go through with a blowtorch," he said. Go to Hotel guests leave plenty of germs behind (http://www.cnn.com/2006/HEALTH/09/29/hotel.germs.ap/index.html) to read the entire article.

09-29-2006, 05:30 PM
Time to bring back the paper band that showed your motel toilet had been sanitized!

09-30-2006, 10:22 PM
The only way we become immune to viruses and the like is through exposure. So, unless I know my room has been exposed to plague or encephalitis, I'm not too concerned. I also try not to use antibacterial soaps if I can help it, unless I know I've been exposed to something awful. As they have to many antibiotics, bacteria and viruses will evolve into something too strong for our cleaning products to destroy.

10-01-2006, 06:37 PM
I completely agree with Carchar, and I'm glad that they are fully disclosing that the makers of Lysol are behind the study.

I am personally more scared of the bugs they would find in my own house than what is found in a hotel room. :D