Checking up on some friends
Researchers in Turkey visited a local hospital to check up on some friends. Of course, these guys were microbiologists, so the friends they were looking for weren’t human, but bacteria.
The search involved swabbing cell phones of patients, visitors and staff at the facility. Each phone was swabbed in three places – the keypad, the microphone and the ear piece. They swabbed a total of 200 cell phones (mobile phones).
Phones were germ loaded
All the phones had bacteria, not a big surprise, because microbes are everywhere and when last did you sterilize your phone ?
The extremely disconcerting thing, was that the bugs weren’t good guys or neutral guys, they were often bad guys i.e. pathogens, able to cause disease.
39.6 % of the patient and visitor phones carried pathogens. The phones of the hospital staff were a little less likely to be carrying pathogens – only 20.6 % of their phones registered a pathogen.
Drug resistant pathogens riding airwaves
A little further investigation revealed that seven of the phones, not only had bacteria that can cause disease, but they had bacteria that were multidrug resistant.
Multidrug resistant bacteria are a BIG problem, because treating an infection caused by one of these bacteria is extremely difficult. The bacteria are able to survive, because the antibiotics that should kill them, no longer work due to the bacteria possessing superpowers in their genes. Multidrug resistant bacteria often kill people.
Keeping these bugs out of general circulation is important. The fact that they are riding about on cell phones poses a health risk, because if they got tired of dialling their buddies on the cell phone keypad and moved off, they could potentially cause some serious infections.
Hospitals are germ central
Hospitals are not good places to hang out at the best of times – too many seriously bad germs. But you don’t want to accidently bring seriously bad germs home with you.
So either talk to your friend in hospital on the cell phone or leave the phone at home and visit in person. Try not to do both. If you do take your cell phone to the hospital, don’t put it anywhere near the bedside, keep it tucked away in your handbag or pocket, so hospital bugs don’t get to push the buttons.
Ultimately you want to cultivate good bacteria not bad ones.Do mobile phones of patients, companions and visitors carry multidrug-resistant hospital pathogens? AJIC: American Journal of Infection Control (2011) 39(5):379-381. Mehmet Sait Tekereko?lu, Yucel Duman, Ayfer Serinda?, Serpil Semiha Cu?lan, Halim Kaysadu, Emine Tunc, Yusuf Yakupogullari et al.
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