Microbial Associated Infections in GSM Phones: A Case Study from Madonna University Students’ Elele Campus, Rivers State.


Ukaji, D.C;

Dept of Medical Microbiology, Faculty of Medical Laboratory Science, Madonna University, Elele, Rivers State.
Ezeiruaku, F.C.;

Dept of Medical Microbiology, Faculty of Medical Laboratory Science, Madonna University, Elele, Rivers State.
Eze, E. M.

College of Health Science, Dept. of Medical Laboratory Science, Wilberforce Island, Bayelsa State.
Ofougwuka, O.S.

Dept. of Haemotology and Transfusion Science, Faculty of Medical Laboratory Science, Madonna University, Elele, Rivers State.

The effect of microbial contaminations on students handling of mobile phones was investigated from students of Madonna University, Elele Campus. A total of 210 samples were randomly collected from GSM phones belonging to male and female students. Using microbiological techniques, 132(62.9%) yielded growth of bacteria, with 85 (64.4%) samples from males and 47(35.6%) from females students. The organisms isolated include Staphylococcus aureus, Streptococcus faecalis and Escherichia coli. There is significant difference (P < 0.01) in the rate of isolation of micro organisms. Unsanitary methods of usage of mobile phones has been implicated for transfer of transient microbes acquired from environment and hands. Public enlightenment on microbial contamination of mobile phones should be intensified and decontamination strategy of cleansing agents recommended.

Keywords: Microbial, Infections, GSM Phones, Madonna University.


Cell phones or mobile phones or wireless phones have become a necessity for many people through out the world. The ability to get help in emergencies, keep in touch with families, business associates and access to email are only a few of the reasons for the increasing importance of cell phones. Over the past, the increasing importance of cell phones has made them almost a necessity for most people (Ekrakere and Igeleke, 2007). Today there are more than 262 million cell phone subscribers, representing 84 percent of the United States population (Ore and Grennberg, 2004).
Increase in temperature allow the survival and growth of thermophile bacteria on cell phones and are perfect for breeding infectious pathogens as they are kept warm and cozy in our pockets (Jay, 2004).
Numerous studies have examined the survival of bacteria on the surface of stainless steel subsequent to contamination. Most people come in contact throughout the day with substances composed of stainless steel and human hands usually harbour microorganisms both as part of the person’s normal flora as well as transient microbes acquired from the environment (Bright etal, 2002). The constant handling of the phone makes it open for array of microorganisms especially those associated with skin, through these phones different microorganisms are spread from one user to another (Gholanireza etal, 2009)
Some microorganisms still find their way on cell phones made of metal that contain moisture. These phones are regularly contaminated with the normal flora of few users,

thus phones act as a device used for the harbouring of microorganisms and transmitting pathogens (Brady etal, 2007)
Cell phones can get contaminated through several means. This involve human activities like sneezing, coughing, sweating, defecating, urinating and also by eating (Nester etal, 1998).
Air, food, water, door handles are countless numbers of contaminated objects that find their way into the mouth and are liable to enter the digestive tract. Urination and defecation without proper washing of hands transfer these organisms into cell phones through contamination. (Murray etal, 2005).
This study is aimed at establishing the rate of carriage of microorganisms on cell phones among students of tertiary institutions since they form the bulk of users and manipulators of cell phones.1

Area of Study
The study was carried out in Madonna University, Elele Campus. Elele is a small town in Ikwerre Local Government Area of Rivers State, Nigeria. It has an average daily temperature of about 32oC during the dry season and about 28oC during the wet/cold season.

Sample Collection/Analysis
Pre-soaked sterile swabs in saline were prepared and swabbed from a total of 210 students’ cell phones. After collection, immediately a dry sterile cotton wool was used


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