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E coli on 16% of mobile phones

14th October 2011

A new study has suggested that one out of every six mobile phones is contaminated with faecal matter.

hand sanitizer

A team of researchers at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and Queen Mary, University of London, conducted a study – to coincide with Global Handwashing Day – and took around 400 samples from mobile phones and hands.

From the survey, which was held across 12 cities in the UK, the team found 16% of mobile phones and 16% of hands had E coli bacteria on them.

The worst areas were in Birmingham where 41% of the phones that were tested were contaminated while in London the highest proportion of E coli was present on hands (28%).

Dr Val Curtis from the London School of Hygiene said: “We found the further north we went the more hands and phones were likely to be contaminated. It could be the bugs survive better in colder and wetter conditions or it might be that people wash their hands less.”

In general, most strains of E coli found on the hands and phones are not likely to cause major ill-health.

Dr Curtis said: “Campylobacter and Salmonella bacteria are much more likely to cause a gastric infection and could easily be passed on through faecal contamination.”

The survey from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine was timed to publicise Global Handwashing Day on 15 October, which is an annual event aimed at promoting hand-hygiene as the cheapest and most effective way of preventing infection by bacteria and viruses.

 

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