Bugs on your cellphone can infect patients

56371559Scientists have warned that mobile phones spread infections in hospitals. Their advice: Do not carry your phone inside a medical ward or ICU lest the handset infects patients.

It is known that mobile phones are a breeding ground for harmful bacteria and viruses. But what is worrying is that most of the germs found on mobile phones have developed resistance to several known antibiotics. Researchers have also cautioned doctors and nurses not to carry phones during hospital rounds.

A research paper on bacterial contamination of mobile phones and harmful germs developing resistance to antibiotic drugs was presented at the Indian Science Congress here by M Kumari Chitturi of the microbiology department of SV University, Tirupati.
At least three research papers have been published on mobile phone bacteria. While bacteria has already been found on medical devices, including BP apparatus, mobile phones are the non-medical equipment responsible for the spurt in hospital-acquired or nosocomial infections.

A study involving 100 samples from the keypads of mobile phones used by doctors in a hospital found 56 samples had bacterial colonies. The worrying factor was the presence of E coli bacteria on the touchscreens of mobile handsets, the researchers said.

The harmful bacteria included, Coagulase-negative Staphylococci, Staphylococcus aureus, Acinetobacter and Escherichia coli. Researchers said that poor hand hygiene was mainly responsible for the growth of harmful germs on mobiles.

Besides washing hands, handsets should be disinfected, they said. They suggested that all hospitals should strictly follow a “no-mobile-phone policy”. Infected handsets inside the sterile atmosphere of operation theatres and ICUs are not recommended.

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