The potential role of mobile phones in the spread of bacterial infections
METHODOLOGY: Specifically, 400 swab samples from mobile phones were collected and divided into groups categorized by the owners of the phones as follows: Group A was comprised of 100 food vendors; Group B, 104 lecturers/students; Group C, 106 public servants; and Group D, 90 health workers. Samples were cultured and the resulting isolates were identified and subjected to antimicrobial susceptibility tests by standard procedures.
RESULTS: The results revealed a high percentage (62.0%) of bacterial contamination. Mobile phones in Group A had the highest rate of contamination (92; 37%), followed by Group B (76; 30.6%), Group C (42; 16.9%), and Group D (38; 15.3%). Coagulase negative Staphylococcus (CNS) was the most prevalent bacterial agent from mobile phones in Group A (50.1%) and least from phones in Group D (26.3), followed by S. aureus. Other bacterial agents identified were Enterococcus feacalis, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Escherichia coli, and Klebsiella spp. There was no statistical significance difference (P < 0.05) in the occurrence of S. aureus, the most frequently identified pathogenic bacterial agent isolated from the mobile phones in the study groups. Fluoroquinolones and third-generation cephalosporin were found to be effective against most isolates.
CONCLUSION: Mobile phones may serve as vehicles of transmission of both hospital and community-acquired bacterial diseases. Strict adherence to infection control, such as hand washing, is advocated.