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Original Article

Korean J healthc assoc Infect Control Prev 2010; 15(1): 36-40

Published online June 30, 2010 https://doi.org/10.14192/kjicp.1970.0.0.

Copyright © Korean Society for Healthcare-associated Control and Prevention.

Isolation of Healthcare-Associated Pathogens from Cellular Phones Used by Medical Personnel

Department of Laboratory Medicine1 and Pediatrics2, Hallym University College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea

Abstract

Background: Cellular phone has become a necessary device for communicating in hospitals. Cellular phones contaminated with bacteria may serve as a fomite in the transmission of pathogens by the hands of medical personnel. We investigated the bacterial contamination of cellular phones used by medical personnel in a tertiary hospital.
Methods: Culture swabs were obtained from 101 cellular phones and 99 anterior nasal cavities from medical personnel using cellular phones. The swabs were inoculated on blood agar, MacConkey agar, mannitol salt agar, and enterococcal broths containing 6Ռg/mL vancomycin for 48 h at 37oC. The bacteria were identified on the basis of colony morphology, gram staining characteristics, catalase test, coagulase test, and DNase test; Microscan (Siemens, USA) was used for the identification of enterococci.
Results: Of the 101 cellular phones, 13 were contaminated with Staphylococcus aureus (including 4 methicillin- resistant S. aureus [MRSA]), 61 with coagulase-negative staphylococci (CoNS) (including 38 methicillin-resistant CoNS), 27 with Micrococcus spp., 11 with diphtheroids, 67 with Bacillus spp., and 4 with viridans streptococci. No gram-negative bacilli were isolated. Nasal swabs yielded 36 S. aureus, including 9 MRSA. Only 1 of 9 cellular phones used by the MRSA carriers was contaminated with MRSA.
Conclusion: Cellular phones used by some medical personnel were contaminated with pathogens such as S. aureus or MRSA. Although, the clinical implications of pathogens isolated from cellular phones have not been fully investigated, pathogens could be transmitted by the hands of medical personnel who are cellular phone users.

Keywords: Cellular phone, Hand hygiene, Disinfection, Transmission, Staphylococcus aureus

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