Hospital SuperBug Found on Mobile Phones

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Note -- this news article is more than a year old.

A study conducted at the Craigavon Area Hospital Group Trust in Northern Ireland has found that the majority of mobile phones used by doctors and other health workers are carrying infectious pathogens including on some phones the deadly hospital "superbug" MRSA. The report authors conducted a short study in order to investigate health workers use of mobile phones within a general hospital and to investigate the potential of mobile phones to carry bacteria known to cause nosocomial infection. Nosocomial infections are those that originate or occur in a hospital or hospital like setting.

The report has been written up in the Journal of Hospital Infection..

The discovery of MRSA on mobile phones that are then carried around the hospital is the issue that will cause the most concern. MRSA has been responsible for 116 deaths in Northern Ireland between 1997-2003. In total, just over 96% of phones demonstrated evidence of bacterial contamination, and 15 (14.3%) of the mobile phones sampled grew bacteria that are known to cause nosocomial infection.

Bacterial typeNumber of mobile phones in which a specific type of bacteria was isolated
Coagulase-negative staphyloccocus98
Micrococcus spp.41
Bacillus spp.21
Methicillin-sensitive Staphyloccus aureus6
Streptococcus viridians6
Methicillin-resistant Staphyloccus aureus (MRSA)2
Enterococci faecalis1
Clostridium perfringens1

There was no significant difference between phone types - clam shells were no better or worse in the study than candy bar form handsets.

While there is reason for concern, there is almost no chance of patents being infected from the mobile phones as health workers do not generally hand their phones to patients to use. The report does recommend that decontamination techniques are developed for mobile phones when used in hospital environments.

A total of 148 hospital staff were surveyed, and 145 owned a phone, with 105 carrying the phone on them at the time of the survey. The survey found that 84.5% of respondents brought their mobile phones to the hospital every day and just over 40% used their phone at work at least once every day. This is the first published study to address the incidence of bacterial contamination of mobile phones."

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Tags: patents  health  northern ireland 

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