A UK-wide study by researchers from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and Queen Mary, University of London has found that one in six mobile phones is contaminated with faecal bacteria.
The most-likely reason, in case you hadn’t already guessed, is apparently due to people failing to wash their hands properly after going to the toilet.
16% of hands and 16% of phones were found to harbour E. coli (Escherichia coli) bacteria, which has a faecal origin and is associated with stomach upsets. In total, 92% of phones and 82% of hands had some kind of bacteria on them.
Dr Val Curtis from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine said “This study provides more evidence that some people still don’t wash their hands properly, especially after going to the toilet. I hope the thought of having E. coli on their hands and phones encourages them to take more care in the bathroom - washing your hands with soap is such a simple thing to do but there is no doubt it saves lives.”
Researchers travelled to 12 cities and took 390 samples from mobile phones and hands. People who had bacteria on their hands were three times as likely to have bacteria on their phone. Faecal bacteria can survive on hands and surfaces for hours at a time, especially in warmer temperatures away from sunlight.
The research has been released to promote Global Handwashing Day, which takes place on 15th October. The campaign points out that washing hands with soap could save more lives than any vaccine or medical intervention. Every year, 3.5 million children under the age of five are killed by pneumonia and diarrhoeal diseases; washing hands with soap is one of the most effective ways of preventing these illnesses. In developed countries, this basic hygiene practice helps to prevent the spread of viral infections, including norovirus, rotavirus and influenza.