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article imageDoctors warn TSA gloves can spread viruses from infected passengers

By Laura Trowbridge     Nov 27, 2010 in Travel
Have you ever wondered about those gloves the TSA agents use over and over on all the intimate patdowns they do on passengers at the airport? Doctors are speaking out about how unsanitary this practice is.
According to the Daily Mail, a woman who had a sanitary pad on and who went through the body scanner at the airport was singled out for a patdown due to the sanitary pad being shown on the scanner.
The unidentified woman wrote to Gladrags, a women's health company, about her humiliating experience: "I was subjected to a search so invasive that I was left crying and dealing with memories that I thought had been dealt with years ago of prior sexual assaults.
"Because of my flannel panty-liner. These new scans are so horrible that if you are wearing something unusual (like a piece of cloth on your panties) then you will be subjected to a search where a woman repeatedly has to check your 'groin' while another woman watches on (two in my case – they were training in a new girl – awesome).
"I just don’t want another woman to have to go through the 'patting down' because she didn’t know that her glad-rag would be a matter of national security."
Since the TSA patdowns include invasive groin groping, doctors are concerned about the gloves used by the agents involved. These gloves are not changed for each passenger, but used over and over again.
Dr Thomas Warner from Wisconsin said: "There is no doubt that bacteria (staph, strep, v.cholerae etc.) and viruses (noro, enteroviruses, herpes, hepatitis A and papilloma viruses) can be spread by contaminated vinyl or latex gloves.
"If a traveller has diarrhea and is soiled, as can and does happen, the causative agent can be spread by this method since bacteria and viruses in moist environments have greater viability.
"The traveler readjusting clothes can easily get the infectious agents on their hands and therefore into their mouth, nose and eyes."
Dr Warner raises the question "if we as doctors have guidelines, we must wear gloves and have oversight" why is the TSA not subject to these same kind of guidelines?
Dr Warner went on to say that the "gloves should be changed between patdowns, especially if the gloved hand is inside clothes or in the genital area... even if clothed. Travelers should be advised of this and hand-wash and change clothes ASAP after these intimate examinations."
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC, have issued a statement: "If you are traveling and are going to be searched, you can request that the TSA agent change his or her gloves."
More about Tsa, Patdowns, Gloves, Infection, Sanitary towel
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