Bacteria On Cell Phones

A wireless walky talky thingy dingy.
Mobile Phone. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Do you wash your hands after going to the bathroom? If not, think of the bacteria that may be residing on your cell phone. A study in the UK has found that 92% of cell phones in use have bacteria on them, including E.coli from fecal bacteria.

Twelve cities in the UK were the centre of a study run by researchers of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine at Queen Mary, University of London. Samples (390 of them) were taken from hands and cell phones, which were then analysed for germs. People were also asked about their hand hygiene habits: did they wash their hands after going to the washroom?

The results of the study were as follows:

  • Bacteria was found on 92% of the cell phones tested.
  • Bacteria was found on 82% of the hands tested. Makes you doubt whether people washed their hands after going to the toilet, even though they said they had.
  • The scary result is that 16% of hands and 16% of the mobile phones had E.coli bacteria on them – a bacteria found in feces.

The researchers highlighted the need to wash hands thoroughly with soap and water after going to the bathroom. And to dry them well because wet hands spread bugs more easily than dry hands.

The first thought that went through my mind when I read about this report was: Dirty hands are not only touching mobile devices!

What is your first reaction on reading the results of this study? 

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2013

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31 thoughts on “Bacteria On Cell Phones

  1. I was appalled when I found out one of my good friends doesn’t wash her hands after using the restroom. These studies always gross me out, but they don’t surprise me that much.

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  2. Great topic, Colline. As a nurse, I can’t say enough about hand-washing! In terms of personal health and the health of others, hand-washing remains the best defense against the spread of any kind of pathogen. Scrubbing with plain soap and water for the amount of time it takes to sing the Happy Birthday song twice is the latest recommendation with thorough rinsing to remove pathogens loosened by soap and water, drying with a non-reusable towel and turning off taps with a disposable towel as well.

    Although I agree with others who say that some bacteria does strengthen our immune system, certain kinds of bacteria such as c-dificile , e. coli., lysteria, etc. does more harm than good, especially with a high bacterial count. For those with health challenges ie. the elderly, good hand-hygiene by care-givers has proven to be an important step in the prevention of urinary tract infections, digestive upsets, diarrhea, bowel infections, etc. in our patients.

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    1. An extremely valid point Darlene. As you say – there is good bacteria and bad bacteria. It is to avoid the bad bacteria that we wash our hands at home once we have been on buses or trains. And I have taken to doing the same once I have been shopping as well.

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  3. I’ve seen similar studies with similar results, testing eyeglasses, PC keyboards, and virtually anything that comes in contact with our hands. It’s really quite unnerving and makes a strong case for using a hand sanitizer throughout the day.

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    1. Or making the effort to wipe down the keyboards, etc, that we use on a daily basis. I worked with someone who did just this once a week. Friday afternoon was her time to wipe down the telephones, keyboards and filing cabinets with sanitising wipes.

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  4. I was just thinking some days ago about all the places I take my cell phone with…. and I did have Ecoli some years back, but thankfully got rid of it. This is very interesting info, Colline.

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  5. I do think reasonable standards of hygiene should be maintained – but at the same time, it is more important to promote a healthy body capable of resisting invaders than it is to keep away completely from such invaders!

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