How many times have you stayed in a hotel where you wondered about the hygiene and cleanliness of the bedding. What can you actually catch from sleeping on an unclean bed. Even if the sheets have been changed, what about the pillow or bedspread or blanket?
Hepatitis A virus can survive outside the body for for months. HAV can survive certain acids and some heat and survive in dried feces. Other Hepatitis viruses such as HBV and HCV can live from 16 hours to up to a week.
Researchers have known since 2005 that "superbugs" like C.Difficille, which is found mainly in hospitals, can live for weeks in bedding and can be resistant to even bleach. Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is a relatively common bacterium found on skin and nasal surfaces of healthy people and animals. MRSA has cause outbreaks in schools and gyms, transmitted through contact with towels.
If bedding has not been changed or cleaned properly, transmission of bacteria and viruses is possible. Catching a virus from hotel bedding is not a common occurrence but it is possible, especially when you talk about padded headboards, quilted bedspreads and pillows, which can retain enough moisture to enable a virus to live long enough to infect. Bacteria, on the other hand, is a much hardier form of life.If the guest before you had a bacterial infection and deposited enough of that bacteria onto the headboard or pillow, then it's possible you could be infected.
Molds responsible for respiratory and skin problems like eczema are virtually indestructible and can live almost anywhere. According to a 1999 Mayo clinic study, 93% of patients with chronic rhino-sinusitis (CRS) had allergenic fungal sinusitis. Molds thrive in damp dark areas, like the air conditioner area in tropical climates. That smell when you first turn on the air conditioner in your hotel could be symptomatic of a mold problem.
So what about swine flu? Swine flu virus or the rhinoviruses that cause colds, needs living cells to stay alive. Without these cells, found in bodily fluids like blood, mucous or saliva, viruses have a short lifespan, between a few seconds and 48 hours, depending on the surface. Viruses tend to live longer on nonporous surfaces, like doorknobs, than on porous surfaces, like fabrics. But if the fabric is dampened with enough fluid, mucous, saliva or fecal matter, the virus may persist for much longer periods.
Can you catch swine flu from your hotel bed? Not likely. You would have to lie down and put your face into a deposit of swine flu virus within minutes of an infected person lying there. But, if you should happen to come into contact with a damp spot of infected bodily fluids, well then it is very possible.
While it is highly unlikely that you will encounter a bed in a hotel which, not only has not been changed, but is still damp with the previous guests infected bodily fluids, "better safe than sorry", in this day and age of pandemics …