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Are Cell Phones Responsible For The Superbug?

The research paper, ‘Annals of Clinical Microbiology and Antimicrobials’ carried out in Ondokuz Mayis University suggest that the cell phones which the health professionals including the doctors and nurses use in the hospital brings in a number of contaminated and lethal pathogens. The cross contamination even keeps on taking place even when you see these people washing their hands properly on a regular basis. In this way the study concludes that the cell phone devices have started acting as an important source of infection in the hospital and also helps in spreading it among the patients.

The Research

The research carried out in the said university in Turkey conducted a study wherein 200 hands and cellphone devices of doctors and nurses working in the ICU and the operation theatre were cross examined. The study showed that around 95 percent of the cellphones carried some or the other dangerous kind of bacteria, despite washing the medical professionals washing their hands. Around 35 percent of the cellphones carried more than two bacterial strains, while around 11 percent of them had three and even more number of lethal bacteria presence. Around 12.5 percent of cellphones were tested positive for MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus).

The Repercussions

The repercussions of these bacterial strains present in cellphones can be alarming. MRSA is a kind of S. aureus bacteria which proves fatal by spreading the staph infection. Being drug resistant in nature, these are very difficult to treat and thus can lead to lethal complications. These can go more severe if MRSA enters inside the deep tissue, therefore causing skin necrosis, disfiguring abscesses, pneumonia blood infections and even death. And these acts in the most dangerous way while being present in the hospital, thus giving fatal results to patients suffering from various disease.

The Fatal Figures

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or CDC gives a very risky estimate and it says that the Staph infections which were mere 2% previously in the mid seventies are on a high rise of 63% in the hospital in 2004. The MRSA is proven responsible for more than 60% of all the infections happening in hospitals. The CDC has some fatal figures, wherein the institute says that in US alone the 94,000 of MRSA infections are reported in every single year causing death to around 19,000 people, which is more than the deaths caused by AIDS in 2005. So every year out of every 100,000 US citizens you will find 31.8 people being the victim of MRSA infections. Similar figures surfaced when a nationwide survey was conducted in 2007 by Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology. However, the death figure was reported came more serious in this nationwide report which says 1.2 million deaths per year.

The cell phones are the most widely used electronic portable device by people including the medical professionals. They are generally in close touch with the body hence more prone to spread infection in the hospital. Since cell phone cannot be washed hence they are likely to wreck havoc in spreading all sorts of lethal infection in the hospital. Moreover, it’s not just the hospital which is on stake; the health professionals even carry these bacteria to their home and hence more likely to spread the infection to their family members. Until and unless these cell phones are swabbed with alcohol based cleaning agents, these will prove an infection agent both in the hospital and home of the health professionals.

Written By

Bethany is a blogger by profession. She loves writing on technology and luxury. Beside this she is fond of cellphones. She recently bought a HTC Sensation XE herself. These days she is busy in writing an article on 3D Camcorder.



  1. Danny

    December 8, 2011 at 6:15 am

    That is a serious problem. Maybe they should use special phones that you can easily clean with alcohol. It will probably be more difficult with touchscreens, but something needs to be done to prevent this.

  2. Las

    December 8, 2011 at 10:35 am

    Some interesting thoughts and facts. Reminds me of the recent film Contagion.

  3. Ellie

    December 16, 2011 at 8:07 pm

    So, it seems we, as a society, need to come up with a way to regularly disinfect our cell phones in addition to just washing our hands.

  4. bilal

    December 27, 2011 at 12:03 pm

    the staph is prevailing very high rate in hospital acquired infections and female during delivery are more prone to it even in extreme aseptic environment

  5. Joe

    December 29, 2011 at 1:06 am

    I try not to pick up anyone’s cell phone but when i do, the germX is not far behind. Could they possibly start making cell phones with that anti-microbial material that cutting boards are made out of?

  6. Robert

    January 5, 2012 at 11:07 am

    Why would medical staff carry cell phones at operation theatre? I thought that as long as they are there, they should be extra-vigilant, nothing should perturb them….

  7. bilal

    January 7, 2012 at 1:40 pm

    i just have really interesting read at your blog and love to read more like this….thanks

  8. Ann

    February 8, 2012 at 10:15 pm

    Hi Bethany,
    This is terrible. I’ve heard that MRSA is very difficult to cure. Maybe the doctors should get one of the cell giants to come up with a cover for their phones that can be swabbed off. I guess as we progress along, we create our future battles with disease. Excellent article on a scary subject.

  9. Carrie

    April 2, 2012 at 6:44 pm

    Bad news, for sure. They say one of the most likely places to get sick is in a hospital and to stay out of them as much as you can. I can’t blame the hospitals too much, germs can hide everywhere. But there is now the first ever washable and antimicrobial cell phone, called the Seal Phone. Might be a very good idea to make it required in this day of superbugs that are outrunning the latest antibiotics.

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