Mobile phone as potential reservoirs of bacterial pathogens
Mobile phones are increasingly used by professionals, university staffs and health care personnel for communication. These can harbor various potential pathogens. This study evaluates and identifies the bacterial contamination rate of mobile phones in the university setting that are in frequent contact with faculty members, personnel, students and/or physicians and nurses in the university clinic. A total of 101 mobile phones belonging to different categories working in various departments at Taif University, KSA were screened for microorganisms’ contamination. Out of the total 101 mobile phones, growth was obtained in 78 (77.2%) mobile phones; 70 (89.7%) from staffs, personnel, students and 8 (10.3%) from clinical workers. Staphylococcus spp and Bacillus spp were the most commonly isolated organisms. Coagulase negative Staphylococcus was the most frequently isolated; 60 (27.12%). The efficacy of decontamination with 70% isopropyl alcohol was found to be 71.3%, as only 29 mobile phones showed growth after decontamination. It was found that around 61.5% of the mobile phones of health care workers at university clinic were contaminated and thus acted as a potential source of nosocomial infections. According to morphological, physiological characteristics, APi profiles and sequencing of 16S-rRNA gene, the selected eight isolates were identified as Bacillus pumilus, Bacillus cereus, Staphylococcus aureus, Staphylococcus hominis, Staphylococcus succinus, Staphylococcus xylosus and Staphylococcus saprophyticus. Based on random amplified polymorphic DNA-polymerase chain reaction (RAPD-PCR), 32 unique RAPD fragments were identified among the selected isolates. Such unique fragments could be considered as specific markers and might be utilized in tracking the bacterial isolates.
Key words: Mobile phones, contamination, pathogen carriers, coagulase negative staphylococci, Bacillus species, 16S-rRNA, random amplified polymorphic DNA-polymerase chain reaction (RAPD-PCR).