ASM Microbe 2019 — Cell phones often crawling with S aureus


  • Emily Willingham, PhD
  • Conference Reports
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Takeaway

  • Staphylococcus aureus was present on 40% of cell phones examined among health professions students in this study, presented at ASM Microbe 2019.

Why this matters

  • S aureus is known for causing hospital- and community-based infections, and for its ready acquisition of antibiotic resistance.
  • Health professionals are likely to pick up such microbes in the course of their work; this study shows that their cell phones can then be contaminated. 
  • Care should be applied when using cell phones in the healthcare environment.
  • A senior author on the study says that the widespread use of cell phones in healthcare settings raises major concerns about their being a reservoir of infectious agents. 

Key results

  • 40% of samples contained S aureus, 70% of them from nursing students.
  • 85% of these samples showed penicillin resistance.
  • 50% of these S aureus-positive samples also could form biofilm.
  • None of the samples contained Escherichia coli. 

Study design

  • 100 cell phones were examined from students in health professions classes (eg, nursing, dentistry).
  • Funding: São Paulo Research Foundation. 

Limitations

  • Single student population in 1 region.
  • Results presented without peer review at a conference.