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Delta planes infested with rats?

A Delta Air Lines jet takes off at

A Delta Air Lines jet takes off at Boston's Logan International Airport. (Jan. 20, 2011) Photo Credit: AP File

Planning to fly Delta anytime soon? You might want to keep your shoes on and some antibacterial wipes handy. OK, common courtesy dictates you should keep your shoes on anyway, but regardless of where you stand on that issue, you won't want to set your little piggies free anymore.

The FDA warned the airline last week to clean up its act, ABC News has reported.

"Rats may have become a real-life horror story for Delta Airlines. FDA investigators say they found “rodent excreta pellets” in some Delta planes.

The Food and Drug Administration sent a warning letter on April 13 to Delta Airlines chief executive Richard Anderson, citing violations found during an inspection that took place between Jan. 26 and Feb. 2 at a Delta hanger near Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.

“This clearly was an isolated incident and we cooperated with the FDA immediately to resolve it earlier this year,” said Delta’s director of communications, Ashley Black," according to the report.

I suppose it could happen to any airline, but exposure to rat droppings doesn't usually come to mind when booking a flight. How exactly did rats make their way onto the planes in the first place? The network got this explanation from Ron Harrison, Orkin Pest Control's director of technical services:

"Rodents usually have four ways they can come into an airplane: the airports, jet ways, food carts or food vending companies and cargo," Harrison said. "The challenge becomes a confined space like this, a perfect habitat for rodents."

That's all well and good, but if they hitched a ride on food carts, then that opens up a whole other can of worms.

Rodents and rodent droppings can transmit at least 35 diseases to humans, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. So in addition to changing your shoe habits and using wipes, you might want to pack your own food, too.

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