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Viability of hospital pathogens on mobile phone

  • Rebecca Simmonds - Cavanagh
    Correspondence
    Address correspondence to Rebecca Simmonds - Cavanagh, PhD, The University of South Wales, Applied Biology Research, Upper Glyn Taff Campus, University of South Wales, Pontypridd, Wales
    Affiliations
    The University of South Wales, Applied Biology Research, Upper Glyn Taff Campus, University of South Wales, Pontypridd, Wales
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Published:November 15, 2021DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ajic.2021.11.003

      Highlights

      • E. Coli, P. aeruginosa and S. aureus exhibited a (log1) decline within the first hour.
      • Bacteria remain viable on mobile phones for at least 6 hours.
      • Many bacteria associated with HAI were detected at 28 days in low numbers.
      • The most successful pathogenic bacteria to remain viable at the 28 day was B. cereus.
      • A rapid viability decline was seen in MSSA within the first 6 hours compared to MRSA.

      Introduction

      Clinical use of mobile phones have increased exponentially. Whilst evidence of contamination is documented, a key factor when determining potential risks of contamination, is establishing the duration the organism remains viable on the device. If pathogens are found to persist for extended duration, healthcare mobile phones may become fomites for cross departmental transmission.

      Aim

      Determine the duration pathogenic bacteria, Acinetobacter baumannii, Escherichia coli, two Pseudomonas sp. Bacillus cereus, Enterococcus faecalis susceptible and resistant to vancomycin (VSE and VRE) Staphylococcus aureus susceptible and resistant to methicillin (MSSA and MRSA), and a coagulase negative Staphylococcus (CoNs) can remain viable on a mobile phone under controlled conditions.

      Method

      Phones were inoculated with 106 – 107 of each bacterium. The duration of viability was measured from the point the inoculum had dried and CFUs retrieved at timed intervals over 28 days.

      Results

      The mean percentage of bacteria viable at each time point was significantly different (20mins, P = .004, 1 hour P = .014, 6 hours P = .006, 24 hours P = .004, 7 days P = .007, 14 days P = .003, 21 days P = .002- and 28 days P = .004). Gram-positive bacteria remained viable longer than gram-negative bacteria (P = .010). MSSA declined faster than MRSA within the first 6 hours (P = .036).

      Conclusions

      The extended duration of bacterial viability indicates the ability for pathogens to persist on a device and remain viable long enough to be transmitted to new areas both within the hospital and out to the community. Mobile phone decontamination should occur in combination of hand hygiene.

      Key Words

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