Poop: Possibly residing on a hotel television remote near you
So you just arrived to a hotel destination after a 16-hour, one-layover flight from Hell. You are tired. Your clothes are clinging to body residue from that long trip through three airport terminals, sitting on your ass in a small space for long stretches of time, and a taxi ride on the Autobahn that had you thinking mortality while fear sweat oozed from your pores. You are ready to check into a clean room to unwind.
You payed a high price for a queen-sized, one-bedroom overlooking the Rhine. You enter the room. Everything looks sparkling clean; the bedding looks as tight as a snare drum head. There's even a packaged mint garnishing on top of the bed spread.
You draw the window curtains to scenery Goethe probably wrote about. The bathroom and all the accessories are immaculately placed. The towels are hung in perfect alignment and the packaged eucalyptus soaps, shampoos, and skin moisturizers are fragrantly pleasing, so much so that you will definitely stash a bunch during your stay to take home.
You turn on a powerful shower that quickly turns the room into a sauna. You wash away all that body grime to the sound of your voice wailing the Scorpions "No One Like You." You emerge and roam around the room, drying off, and taking another look out the window. Your naked body is one with the Rhineland. You are refreshed and hop on the bed to turn on the television and relax to some obscure American situation comedy dubbed in German. But as you reach for the remote control and notice something is not right.
You sniff the air, trying to identify a quaint odor. You take a close look at the remote, and there is is, the source--an almost unnoticeable smidgen: poop. Everything was perfect until that moment.
In an attempt to develop better hotel room cleaning practices, researchers at the University of Houston, Purdue University, and the University of South Carolina found fecal bacterium E- coli in 81 percent of hotel room surfaces from swab samples. Even though the study was limited to hotels in three states in the U.S., one can only imagine ineffective hotel room sanitation practices extending to lands far and wide.
While study is an eyebrow-raiser, the average person has a healthy enough human immune system to stave off potential contamination and resulting sickness. Still, the findings should serve as a wake-up call for hotel management. With the onslaught and influence of cyber hotel guest reviews, a discovery of fecal residue from a guest could make or break a hotel's reputation even when no outbreak occurred.
As for our tired traveler on the Rhine, let's change the story and assume the television remote and all other corners and crevices in the room were fecal-free. But one must still wonder: Who and how, and what practice, lead to fecal residue in such curious hotel room places?