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J Infect Dev Ctries. 2009 Sep 15;3(8):628-32.

The potential role of mobile phones in the spread of bacterial infections.

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  • 1Department of Microbiology, Lagos State University, Lagos, Nigeria.



Mobile phones are indispensable accessories both professionally and socially but they are frequently used in environments of high bacteria presence. This study determined the potential role of mobile phones in the dissemination of diseases.


Specifically, 400 swab samples from mobile phones were collected and divided into groups categorized by the owners of the phones as follows: Group A was comprised of 100 food vendors; Group B, 104 lecturers/students; Group C, 106 public servants; and Group D, 90 health workers. Samples were cultured and the resulting isolates were identified and subjected to antimicrobial susceptibility tests by standard procedures.


The results revealed a high percentage (62.0%) of bacterial contamination. Mobile phones in Group A had the highest rate of contamination (92; 37%), followed by Group B (76; 30.6%), Group C (42; 16.9%), and Group D (38; 15.3%). Coagulase negative Staphylococcus (CNS) was the most prevalent bacterial agent from mobile phones in Group A (50.1%) and least from phones in Group D (26.3), followed by S. aureus. Other bacterial agents identified were Enterococcus feacalis, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Escherichia coli, and Klebsiella spp. There was no statistical significance difference (P < 0.05) in the occurrence of S. aureus, the most frequently identified pathogenic bacterial agent isolated from the mobile phones in the study groups. Fluoroquinolones and third-generation cephalosporin were found to be effective against most isolates.


Mobile phones may serve as vehicles of transmission of both hospital and community-acquired bacterial diseases. Strict adherence to infection control, such as hand washing, is advocated.

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