The Importance of Mobile Phones in the Possible Transmission of Bacterial Infections in the Community

Abstract

Mobile phones have become indispensable accessories in today’s life. However, they might act as fomites as they have travelled with their owner to places such as toilets, hospitals and kitchens which are loaded with microorganisms. A cross-sectional study was carried out to isolate and identify bacteria from mobile phones of volunteers in the community. A total of 192 mobile phones from 102 males and 90 females were swabbed and cultured. The bacteria were identified by gram staining and conventional biochemical tests. A total of 176 mobile phones (91.7 %) showed bacterial contamination. Coagulase negative Staphylococcus was the most prevalent (69.3 %) followed by Micrococci (51.8 %), Klebsiella (1.5 %) and Pseudomonas (1 %). The mean colony forming units was higher among females than males (p < 0.05; 95 % CI 0.021–0.365) and higher on mobile phones which were kept in bags than in pockets (p < 0.05; 95 % CI 0.019–0.369). Furthermore, the use of phone cover was found to reduce microbial growth (OR 4.2; 95 % CI 1.423–12.39; p < 0.05). Significant associations were also found between bacterial growth and female participants, agricultural workers, mobile phones older than 6 months and sharing of mobile phones (p < 0.05). Mobile phones from the community carry potential pathogens. Cleaning of mobile phones should be encouraged and should be preferably stored in pockets or carry cases.

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Acknowledgments

We are thankful to all the volunteers who participated in this study.

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Correspondence to S. D. Biranjia-Hurdoyal.

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Bhoonderowa, A., Gookool, S. & Biranjia-Hurdoyal, S.D. The Importance of Mobile Phones in the Possible Transmission of Bacterial Infections in the Community. J Community Health 39, 965–967 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10900-014-9838-6

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Keywords

  • Mobile phones
  • Bacteria
  • Infections
  • Community