Streptococcal and staphylococcal contamination common on healthcare workers' cell phones

   According to researchers at the University of North Carolina at Pembroke, of 50 cell phones tested 40% were contaminated with Staphylococci, 30% were contaminated with Streptococci, and 20% were contaminated with both organisms. The investigators presented their data in a poster at ASM 2013, held in May 2013 in Denver.

   The mobile phones of nursing students who were also health care workers from the local university and community college were swabbed to collect bacterial specimens. The cultures were isolated and studied for morphological and biochemical characteristics. The microbial population was surveyed using special culture media and quantified by standard plate count. While the primary objective of the study was to demonstrate the prevalence of Escherichia coli, Staphylococcus, and Streptococci on the smart phones of health care workers, only the latter two organisms were present. No E. coli was found.

   According to the University of North Carolina researchers, some Streptococci exhibited B-hemolysis and none of the bacterial isolates exhibited resistance to tetracycline (30ug), ampicillin (10ug), or kanamycin (30ug). Women and those aged 20 and 21 had the most contaminated phones.