We already know that cell phones carry all sorts of germs. They've been found to have about 18 times more bacteria than your average toilet handle. People do tend to use their phones everywhere. Including the doctor's office and the hospital, where especially nasty bugs can be lurking.
Now a study finds that some of these more potent pathogens make it onto the surfaces of mobile phones. Of 133 phones belonging to patients and their visitors at a Turkish hospital, more than three quarters were carrying staph bacteria—and one phone had the multidrug-resistant strain MRSA. Five of the phones also tested positive for E. coli—and two had a drug-resistant type.
The cell phones of the hospital’s health care workers were a little cleaner. Twenty percent of employee mobile phones carried pathogenic bacteria—none of which were multidrug-resistant. The research is published in the American Journal of Infection Control. [Mehmet Sait Tekerekoǧlu et al., "Do Mobile Phones of Patients, Companions and Visitors Carry Multidrug-Resistant Hospital Pathogens?"]
Exposing phones to UV radiation would be a quick way to zap bacteria. Covering cells in washable plastic covers could also cut down on unintended transmission. So it might be time for cell phones to scrub in, too.
[The above text is an exact transcript of this podcast.]