Patients' Mobile Phones Carry Multidrug-Resistant Bacteria

Noticeably more multidrug-resistant bacteria on phones of patients than of health care workers

TUESDAY, June 7 (HealthDay News) -- Mobile phones of patients carry more multidrug-resistant pathogenic bacteria than mobile phones of health care workers, according to a study published in the June issue of the American Journal of Infection Control.

Mehmet Sait Tekerekoglu, M.D., from Inonu University in Malatya, Turkey, and colleagues investigated whether mobile phones of patients, their companions, visitors, or health care workers carried any pathogenic bacteria likely to cause infection in hospital wards. Swab samples were collected and cultured from the keypad, microphone, and ear part of 200 mobile phones. Isolated bacteria were identified and antimicrobial susceptibility of the isolates investigated.

The investigators found that the mobile phones of patients had significantly higher rates of pathogens than mobile phones of health care workers (39.6 versus 20.6 percent). Mobile phones of patients had more multidrug-resistant bacteria, including methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, high-level aminoglycoside-resistant Enterococcus spp, extended-spectrum β-lactamase-producing Escherichia coli, Klebsiella spp, and carabepenem-resistant Acinetobacter baumanii, than mobile phones of health care workers.

"Significantly higher numbers of pathogens were isolated from the patients' mobile phones. Contrary to expectations, multidrug-resistant bacteria were not found on the mobile phones of health care workers," the authors write.

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