Even if isolation, disinfection and sterilization techniques were applied with
the use of new and wide spectrum antibiotics, nosocomial infections have been
causing high mortality and morbidity. It was reported that equipments used in
hospitals, such as sphygmomanometer, thermometer and stethoscopes, are likely
to be contaminated with bacteria and may transmit bacteria to patients (Cohen
et al., 1997). Mobile phones are dispensable accessories in social
life, often they are not cleaned properly. Although, patients do not have direct
contact with mobile phones, colonized bacteria on the devices may be transmitted
to them by healthcare staff. In patients with strong immune system, the bacteria
may not do any harm but in patient groups with weak immune system, it may cause
nosocomial infections as reported previously by Karabay
et al. (2007) and Brady et al. (2006).
In the light of these, this study was designed to investigate colonized
microorganism on mobile phones from healthcare staff worked in different
departments of hospitals.
MATERIALS AND METHODS
Collection of samples: The samples were collected from three hospitals;
grouped as 1, 2 and 3. One hundred and six samples were collected from
mobile phones of healthcare staffs and thirty samples were collected as
control from people not related with health service. Age and sex dispersion
of the control group was similar to study group. They have been asked
to clean mobile phones with alcohol.
The samples were collected by rotating cotton swabs on the keypad, earpiece
and mouthpiece and then inoculated in the Cary-Blair transport medium.
Later, subcultures were made on 5% sheep blood agar, Eosin Methylene-Blue
(EMB) agar and Sabouraud Dextrose Agar (SDA). Plates were incubated at
37°C during 24-48 h for bacteriological investigation and at room
temperature for 2 weeks for mycological investigation. Microorganisms
grown on plates were identified with conventional techniques and Vitec2
full automated identification system.
RESULTS AND DISCUSSION
One hundred and six samples were collected from 68 doctors and 38 nurses.
Distribution of samples according to hospital departments and healthcare
staffs was shown in Table 1. Growth was observed in
65 samples (61.3%). Isolated bacteria were showed at Table
In 11 samples, which were shown as polymicrobial in Table
2, isolated bacteria were more than one. Three of them had S. epidermidis
and S. aureus, 2 of them had S. epidermidis and Corynebacterium
sp., 2 of them had S. epidermidis and Bacillus sp., 1 of
them had S. epidermidis and E. coli, 1 of them had S.
epidermidis and Penicillium sp., 1 of them had S. epidermidis
and α-hemolytic streptococcus. Growth was observed in 4 of 12 samples
from mobile phones cleaned with alcohol at least ones a week, although
growth was in 61 of 94 samples from mobile phones not cleaned anyway.
Samples collected from control group have been shown at Table
||Samples distribution according to hospital departments
and healthcare staffs
||Distribution of isolated bacteria from samples
||Distribution of isolated microorganism from control
From 30 samples of control group, growth was observed in 16 samples (53,3%)
and in 4 samples S. epidermidis and Bacillus sp. were isolated
As a result, growth was observed in 65 of 106 samples from treatment
groups and in 16 of 30 samples from control group.
Nowadays, nosocomial infection still poses increasing significance. Many-sided
studies about prevention of nosocomial infection report a significant
rate of mortality and morbidity. Economical loses were also reported.
It was shown that shared equipments such as stethoscope, thermometer and
sphygmomanometer may be a reservoir of microorganism as well. It was suggested
that microorganism may colonize on mobile phones. Isolation of flora bacteria
on hand and skin may be evaluated since many phone users may not care
enough for their personal hygiene. Out of evaluated samples, growth was
observed in 61%, in addition bulk of them was microorganisms belonging
to normal skin and air floras. Furthermore, pathogen bacteria such as
S. aureus, E. coli were isolated. Microorganisms corresponding
to normal flora may act as opportunist bacteria in hospital should be
In Nigeria Ekrakene and Igeleke (2007) reported that
S. aureus, B. subtilis and E. aerogenes were isolated
from mobile phone of healthcare staffs and showed that infection might occur
with these agents (Brady et al., 2005).
In another study, Karabay et al. (2007) reported
that E. coli, Bacillus sp., coagulase-negative staphylococcus,
which are agents of nosocomial infection, have been isolated from mobile phones
of healthcare staffs.
It was observed that mobile phones disinfected with alcohol have carried
fewer bacteria. To reduce microorganism colonization on the mobile phones,
hand hygiene should be emphasized more. In this respect, we suggest that
hand hygiene should be a vital mechanism for preventing transmission of
nosocomial infection with mobile phones of healthcare staffs.
Isolation of fewer bacteria from samples of control group was evaluated
as statistically significant.
As a result of this study, more pathogen/opportunist bacteria were isolated
from mobile phones of healthcare staffs than the ones of control group.
These findings suggest that microbiological contamination of these mobile
phones have an epidemiologic risk. Fewer microorganisms were isolated
from samples of mobile phones disinfected with alcohol. It pointed that
healthcare staffs should pay attention at hand hygiene.
Nevertheless, further investigations are needed to substantiate the role
of mobile phones in the transmission of nosocomial infection to outside