Mobile phones and computer keyboards: unlikely reservoirs of multidrug-resistant organisms in the tertiary intensive care unit

O. C. Smibert, A. K. Aung, E. Woolnough, G. P. Carter, M. B. Schultz, B. P. Howden, T. Seemann, D. Spelman, S. McGloughlin, Anton Yariv Peleg

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18 Citations (Scopus)


Few studies have used molecular epidemiological methods to study transmission links to clinical isolates in intensive care units. Ninety-four multidrug-resistant organisms (MDROs) cultured from routine specimens from intensive care unit (ICU) patients over 13 weeks were stored (11 meticillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), two vancomycin-resistant enterococci and 81 Gram-negative bacteria). Medical staff personal mobile phones, departmental phones, and ICU keyboards were swabbed and cultured for MDROs; MRSA was isolated from two phones. Environmental and patient isolates of the same genus were selected for whole genome sequencing. On whole genome sequencing, the mobile phone isolates had a pairwise single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) distance of 183. However, >15,000 core genome SNPs separated the mobile phone and clinical isolates. In a low-endemic setting, mobile phones and keyboards appear unlikely to contribute to hospital-acquired MDROs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)295-298
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Hospital Infection
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2018


  • Contamination
  • Infection prevention
  • Mobile phone
  • Transmission

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