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Cellphones may spread superbugs in hospitals: Study

According to a study conducted in Turkey, cell phones belonging to hospital staff were found to be tainted with bacteria -- including the drug-resistant MRSA superbug -- and may be a source of hospital-acquired infections.

world Updated: Mar 06, 2009 08:22 IST

Cell phones belonging to hospital staff were found to be tainted with bacteria -- including the
drug-resistant MRSA superbug -- and may be a source of hospital-acquired infections, according to study released
on Friday.

Researchers from the Ondokuz Mayis University in Turkey led by Fatma Ulger tested the phones and dominant hands of 200 doctors and nurses working in hospital operating rooms and intensive care units.

Ninety-five per cent of the mobile phones were contaminated with at least one type of bacteria, with the
potential to cause illness ranging from minor skin irritations to deadly disease.

Nearly 35 per cent carried two types of bacteria, and more than 11 per cent carried three or more different species
of bugs, the study found.

Most worring, one in eight of the handsets showed methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), a virulent
strain that has emerged as a major health threat in hospitals around the world.

Only 10 per cent of staff regularly cleaned their phones, even if most followed hygiene guidelines for hand washing, the study noted.