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Are Hospital Mobile Phones Dialing Up Superbugs?

Turkish study finds 95% of headsets contaminated with bacteria that could infect patients

FRIDAY, March 6 (HealthDay News) -- A new culprit has emerged in the spread of the tough-to-kill "superbug" bacteria and other infections in hospitals -- mobile phone headsets.

Turkish researchers testing the phones of doctors and nurses working in hospitals found that 95 percent were contaminated with bacteria including methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), which can cause serious staph infections and is resistant to certain common antibiotics.

The team from the Faculty of Medicine at the Ondokuz Mayis University also found that only 10 percent of the staff regularly cleaned their phones.

"Our results suggest cross-contamination of bacteria between the hands of health care workers and their mobile phones. These mobile phones could act as a reservoir of infection which may facilitate patient-to-patient transmission of bacteria in a hospital setting," the authors wrote in their study, published online in the Annals of Clinical Microbiology and Antimicrobials.

To combat the spread of disease and infections through contaminated hand-held electronic devices, the authors recommended proactive strategies to disinfect and decontaminate the devices and the practice of improved hand hygiene.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more about MRSA.

-- Kevin McKeever

SOURCE: BioMed Central, news release, March 5, 2009

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