Fight Back Against Travel Germs

Copyright 2006 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

April 12, 2006 Wednesday Main Edition


Fight back against travel germs

By Nedra Rhone

With air travel at an all-time high, along with concerns over catching a contagious disease, more and more travelers are turning into germophobes. Assuming the fetal position won’t do much to ward off SARS or avian flu, concerned travelers can stock up on germ-fighting products.

From disposable seat covers to personal air filters, there is something to satisfy the germophobe in us all, even if many of the dangers are more imagined than real.

Anything that claims to stop the spread of germs has “a whole heck of a lot of marketing involved,” said Dr. Phyllis Kozarsky, professor of medicine and infectious disease at Emory University.

The best you can do, Kozarsky said, is use a waterless gel to clean your hands before eating and before and after using the restroom. And if you are sick, stay home.

“I can’t think of anything that is going to prevent transmission of an illness when you are in a closed environment with a person who has a transmissible disease,” she said.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t try. Here are some products popular among consumers who hope to chase the germs away:

* Boost your defenses: Atlanta shoppers stock up on $9 Airborne tablets before stepping into a germ-filled environment, said Gwin Hammond, spokeswoman for Mori Luggage and Gifts.

Created by a second-grade teacher from California, the fizzy tablets contain 17 natural ingredients that are supposed to boost the body’s defenses. A tube of 10 tablets is available at Mori locations and drugstores everywhere.

* Cover your seat: SeatWrap creates a protective layer between you and whatever spills may linger in that aisle spot. The elasticized covers fit most commercial airline seats and can be reused several times before discarding. Available for $9.85 at

* Chase those germs away: Touted as the “first nasal spray created especially for travelers,” Flight Spray fights cooties with spearmint and turmeric root. It claims to prevent viral infections by making the nose unsuitable for inhaled germs to roost. Available for $14.85 at

* Carry foot protection: FeetWraps helps squeamish types who want to avoid contact with unknown organisms and cold hard floors at security checkpoints. A package of 10 is available for $9.85 at or

* Get swathed in style: A colorful line of fleece blankets, eye masks and disposable pillows is offered by pb Travel.

“Most travel accessories catered to the needs of men for a very long time,” said Margherita Blanc, co-owner of pb Travel. “We said, ‘Let’s make something for women.’ ” The color assortment includes fuchsia, lime, orange and turquoise. Blankets are $14.99; a pillow and blanket set is $19.99 at

* Control your air supply: Need personal space? How about personal air? Ultra-Mini Air Supply’s filter “substantially reduces pollutants, dust, smoke, pollens, germs and odors in the air, so fresh air is released towards your mouth, nose and eyes,” the maker says. The battery-operated mini vent hangs around the neck. Ultra-Mini Air Supply is $129 at

FAMOUS GERMOPHOBES Fear germs? You’re in good company. Here are some famous germophobes who’ve come clean with their dirty secret.

* Howard Hughes: The 2004 film “The Aviator” immortalized the quirky tycoon’s phobia of shaking hands but glossed over the fact that Hughes burned his clothes after a syphilis diagnosis.

* Donald Trump: “The Donald” detailed his hatred of handshaking in his 1997 book, “Trump: The Art of the Comeback.” (Does he prefer that everyone bow?)

* Cameron Diaz: She isn’t “scared” of germs, but in 1997 Diaz told Time magazine that she opens doors with her elbows.

* Mary J. Blige: A recent performance contract, uncovered by, reveals Blige’s request that the private toilet in her dressing room be equipped with a new seat.

* Howie Mandel: Mandel suffers from obsessive-compulsive disorder. The game-show host recently told Howard Stern, a fellow germophobe, that he started shaving his head because it makes him feel cleaner.

* Adrian Monk (of the USA series “Monk”): This fictional character fears everything from germs to milk — taking the fear to new heights.* Michael Jackson: Surgical mask? Rumors of a hyperbaric chamber? Maybe that glittery glove had nothing to do with fashion.

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