Dangers of bacteria hiding in our gadgets
Dangerous bacteria is more common in our tech gadgets than on toilet seats, according to a new study.
Cleanliness-conscious nurses should disinfect their smartphones, tablet computers and office keyboards with anti-bacterial wipes just as they might with any other piece of hospital equipment, the research suggests.
Consumer watchdog Which? said standard swab tests unearthed “hazardous” levels of germs that can cause vomiting, diarrhoea and even conceal infections such as e.coli.
It took swabs from 30 smartphones, tablets and keyboards.
One iPad had 600 units of Staphylococcus aureus, bacteria that produce toxins that can result in food poisoning.
This compares with under 20 units of Staphylococcus per swab off an office toilet, 140 on a smartphone and 480 on the filthiest keyboard.
It is vital to keep devices clean by employing anti-bacterial wipes, the watchdog advised.
Keyboard users should tip them upside down and shake them to “dislodge any old food crumbs, dust and skin flakes”, while damp, soft, lint-free cloths should be used to take away streaks from phones and tablets.
Which? blames the findings on contemporary frenetic lifestyles, with dirty fingers, eating while typing and hurried toilet breaks.
The problem is not helped by people taking their must-have tech gadgets into toilets.
James Francis, the microbiologist who undertook the study, called the count of 600 on the iPad “incredibly high”, suggesting that some people don’t wash their hands much.
Mr Francis added: “In the food industry, if we found those levels of bacteria from a hand swab of a food handler, they’d have to be taken out of the workplace and retrained in basic hygiene.”
Tests for enterobacteria found 15,000 of the bacteria on one tablet, four smartphones and five keyboards.
There were under 10 on the toilet seat and flush handle, but all these tests came up both e.coli and salmonella-free.
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