Study of bacterial flora associated with mobile phones of healthcare workers and non-healthcare workers

  • Raghavendra Rao Morubagal Department of Microbiology, JSS Medical College, JSS University, Shivarathreswara Nager Mysore 570015, Karnataka, India
  • Sowmya Govindanahalli Shivappa Department of Microbiology, JSS Medical College, JSS University, Shivarathreswara Nager Mysore 570015, Karnataka, India
  • Rashmi Padmanabha Mahale Department of Microbiology, JSS Medical College, JSS University, Shivarathreswara Nager Mysore 570015, Karnataka, India
  • Sumana Mhadevaiah Neelambike Department of Microbiology, JSS Medical College, JSS University, Shivarathreswara Nager Mysore 570015, Karnataka, India
Keywords: Healthcare-associated infections, Mobile phones, Staphylococcus species, Acinetobacter baumannii


Background and Objectives: Despite improvements in modern diagnosis and therapies, hospital acquired infections remain a leading problem of global health systems. Healthcare workers mobile phones is a reservoir for potential pathogens. Despite the high possibility of being contaminated, mobile phones are rarely clean and are often touched during or after examination of patients and handling of specimens without proper hand washing. The main objective of the present study was to isolate, identify different types of bacteria and their antibiotic sensitivity from mobile phones of healthcare workers and non-healthcare workers.Materials and Methods: Samples were collected aseptically by rolling over the exposed surfaces of the mobile phones inoculated on the agar plates and incubated aerobically. After incubation, plates were examined for growth. Bacteria were identified and antibiotic sensitivity was tested as per standard microbiological procedures.Results: In this study a total of 175 samples were examined, out of which 125 samples were from healthcare workers (HCWs), 50 samples were from non-healthcare workers (non-HCWs). Among the mobile phones of HCW’s from ICUs, Acinetobacter baumannii (36.84%) was the predominant organism isolated followed by methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) (21.05%). Predominant organism isolated from HCW’s in operation theater theater was MRSA (46.66%). Out of 50 worker’s non-HCWs mobile phones samples cultured, 23 (46.00%) samples yielded growth of six different types of bacteria.Conclusion: Our study reveals that there is definite colonization of bacteria on mobile phones of the HCWs. It is not only capable of transferring message but also disease-producing microbes. In order to reduce incidence of nosocomial infections, there should be implementation of hand washing practices and regulations around the use of mobile telephones in hospital settings.


Soto RG, Chu LF, Goldman JM, Rampil IJ, Ruskin KJ. Communication in critical care environments: mobile telephones improve patient care. Anesth Analg 2006; 102: 535-541.

Ramesh J, Carter AO, Campbell MH, Gibbons N, Powlett C, Moseley H, et al. Use of mobile phones by medical staff at Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Barbados: evidence for both benefit and harm. J Hosp Infect 2008; 70: 160-165.

Manning ML, Davis J, Sparnon E, Ballard RM. iPads, droids, and bugs: Infection prevention for mobile handheld devices at the point of care. Am J Infect Control 2013; 41: 1073-1076.

Harish RT, Kairavi JD, Lopa PT, Saklainhaider SM, Tanuja BJ. Role of mobile phone in spreading hospital acquired infection: A Study in different group of health care workers. Natl J Integr Res Med 2011; 2:61-66.

Chinjal A.P, Mitesh N.K, Sanjay J.M. Bacteriological profile of cell phones of healthcare workers at tertiary care hospital. JEMDS 2012; 1: 198-202.

Jaya Madhuri R, Saraswathi M, Mahitha G, Bhargavi M, Deepika S, Vijaya Lakshmi G. Bacterial contamination of mobile phones and computers in microbiological laboratories. European J Biotechnol Biosci 2015; 3: 51-55.

Visvanathan A, Gibb AP, Brady RR. Increasing clinical presence of mobile communication technology: avoiding the pitfalls. Telemed J E Health 2011; 17: 656-661.

Vilella A, Bayas JM, Diaz MT, Guinovart C, Diez C, Simó D, et al. The role of mobile phones in improving vaccination rates in travelers. Prev Med 2004; 38: 503-509.

Akinyemi KO, Atapu AD, Adetona OO, Coker AO. The potential role of mobile phones in the spread of bacterial infections. J Infect Dev Ctries 2009; 3: 628-632.

Ilusanya O, Adesanya O, Adesemowo A, Amushan N. Personal hygiene and microbial contamination of mobile phones of food vendors in Ago-Iwoye Town, Ogun State, Nigeria. Pak J Nutr 2012; 11: 276-278.

Philip AM. The normal microbial flora. N Engl J Med 1982; 307: 83-93.

Elkholy M, Ewees I. Mobile (cellular) phone contamination with nosocomial pathogens in Intensive Care Units. Med J Cairo Univ 2010; 2: 1-5.

Aronson SH. The Lancet on the telephone 1876-1975. Med Hist 1977; 21: 69-87

Kapil A (Ed). Ananthanarayanan and Paniker Text Book of Microbiology (2013). Healthcare- associated infections. 9th edition. Universities Press, pp. 644-649.

Arora U, Devi P, Chadha A, Malhotra S. Cell phones a modern stay house for bacterial pathogens. J K Science 2009; 11: 127-129.

Chawla K, Mukhopadhayay C, Gurung B, Bhate P, Bairy I. Bacterial “Cell” Phones: Do cell phones carry potential pathogens? OJHAS 2009; 8(1): 8.

Performance standards for antimicrobial susceptibility testing, “Twenty third information Supplement. 2013.M100-S23. p.66.

Girma MM, Ketema A, Gemeda A. Bacterial contamination of mobile phones of healthcare workers at Jimma University Specialized Hospital, Jimma, South West Ethiopia. Int J Infect Control 2014; 11(1): 1-8.

Ulger F, Esen S, Dilek A. Are we aware how contaminated our mobile phones with nosocomial pathogens? Ann Clin Microbiol Antimicrob 2009; 8:7.

Jayalakshmi J, Appalaraju B, Usha. Cell phones as reservoirs of nosocomial pathogens. J Assoc Phy India 2008; 56: 388-389.

Marwa AE, Nadia ME. Mobile phones are silent threat. Int J Curr Microbiol App Sci 2015; 4: 199-205.

Neha S, Aruna S, Parihar RS, Khatri PK, Arvind C, Archana B. Prevalence and antibiotic pattern of microbes isolated from mobile phones of health care workers and non- health care workers. Int Curr Microbiol App Sci 2014; 3: 43-60.

Khivsara A, Sushma TV, Dhanashree B. Typing of Staphylococcus aureus from mobile phones and clinical samples. Current Science 2006; 90: 910-912.

Goldblatt JG, Krief I, Klonsky T, Haller D, Milloul V, Sixsmith DM, et al. Use of cellular telephones and transmission of pathogens by medical staff in New York and Israel. Infect Control Hosp Epidemiol 2007; 28: 500-503.

Lawani EU, Oxford IO. Mobile phones of Healthcare workers: Friend or Foe. GJRA 2015; 4(3).

Holmes JW, Williams MD. Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus screening and eradication in the surgical intensive care unit: Is it worth it? Am J Surg 2010; 200:827-831.

Peleg AY, Seifert H, Paterson DL. Acinetobacter baumannii: emergence of a successful pathogen. Clin Microbiol Rev 2008; 21:538-582.

Dardi CKG, Jaishreee SP. Study of micro-organisms and their antimicrobial susceptibility pattern on mobile phones of health care workers from a tertiary care rural hospital. Adv Biomed Pharma 2015; 2: 267-273.

Boyce JM, Pittet D. Guideline for hand hygiene in health-care settings. MMWR Recomm Rep 2002; 51 (RR-16):1-45.

How to Cite
Morubagal R, Shivappa S, Mahale R, Neelambike S. Study of bacterial flora associated with mobile phones of healthcare workers and non-healthcare workers. IJM. 9(3):143-51.
Original Article(s)