Bacterial Isolates from Cell Phones and Hands of Health Care Workers: A Cross Sectional Study in Pediatric Wards at Black Lion Hospital, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Tolossa E Chaka, Girma Mulisa Misgana, Bogale W Feye and Roza T Kassa

Background: Hospital-acquired infections are one of the major problems in hospitals resulting not only in increased morbidity and mortality but also increased healthcare costs. Inanimate devices are vectors for transmission of nosocomial pathogens. Objectives: To describe the role of cell phones in transmitting bacteria to dominant hands of HCWs in pediatric wards at Black Lion Hospital. Methods: A cross-sectional descriptive study was used. All staff nurses, pediatric residents and medical interns attached to the Pediatric department within the study period were included in the study. Samples were taken from dominant hands of each study participants and their cell phones. Results: Eighty five percent of the study participants never cleaned their cell phones. 78% of health care workers use their cell phones while working. Out of total 100 samples taken from hands and cell phones each, bacteria were isolated in 78% of hand swabs, in 62% of cell phones and in 18% of hand swabs taken after decontamination. The most common bacterial isolates obtained from hand swabs were Staphylococcus aureus (56.4%) and coagulase negative Staphylococcus (34.6%) while from cell phone swabs were similarly S. aureus (59.7%) and CONS (37.1%). The resistance pattern of S. aureus from hand swab was 24% & 44% respectively for vancomycin and ceftazidime; 40% of them were methicillin resistant. Conclusion: Cell phones harbour pathogenic and potential pathogenic bacteria which can be transferred to health care workers dominant hands that may increase risk of nosocomial infection. Therefore, hand washing should be exercised strictly. Alcohol hand rub is a solution if applied correctly and consistently before and after patient care.