Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Northwestern Memorial Study Finds That Computer Keyboards May Harbor Harmful Bacteria

Date:
April 18, 2005
Source:
Northwestern Memorial Hospital
Summary:
Some potentially harmful bacteria can survive for prolonged periods of time on the keyboards and keyboard covers of computers, a study conducted at Northwestern Memorial Hospital has found. Gary A. Noskin, MD, who is medical director of healthcare epidemiology and quality at Northwestern Memorial and who led the study, advises periodic cleaning of computer equipment and hand washing after every computer use.

Some potentially harmful bacteria can survive for prolonged periods of time on the keyboards and keyboard covers of computers, a study conducted at Northwestern Memorial Hospital has found. Gary A. Noskin, MD, who is medical director of healthcare epidemiology and quality at Northwestern Memorial and who led the study, advises periodic cleaning of computer equipment and hand washing after every computer use.

Related Articles


"The problem is especially important in hospitals and other healthcare environments where patients are at risk of contracting bacterial infections from healthcare providers who use computers," Dr. Noskin says. He presented his findings at the 15th Annual Scientific Session of the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America (SHEA) in Los Angeles this week, and the study generated coverage from various news outlets including CNN, the Chicago Sun-Times and Reuters.

Noskin and his colleagues studied bacteria commonly found in the hospital environment. To determine the ability of bacteria to survive on computer keyboards, the researchers inoculated the equipment with three types of bacteria: vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus faecium (VRE), methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and Pseudomonas aeruginosa (PSAE). VRE and MRSA are examples of bacterial strains that have developed resistance to the antibiotics (including vancomyin and methicillin) commonly used on them. Although VRE and PSAE seldom cause problems except in hospitalized patients whose immune systems are compromised by other disease or illness, recent outbreaks of MRSA skin infections in otherwise healthy persons (community-acquired MRSA) have raised concern among infectious disease experts.

"We found that VRE and MRSA were capable of prolonged survival, with growths of the bacteria evident 24 hours after contamination," said Noskin. "PSAE, on the other hand could be recovered only up to one hour on the keyboard and five minutes on the keyboard cover." The study also found that the more contact with the contaminated keyboards, the more the likelihood of transmitting bacteria to the hands.

All three bacteria are widespread in nature, inhabiting soil, water, plants, and/or animals (including humans). MRSA (staph) infection can cause skin rash, boils and blisters, toxic shock syndrome and other types of infection and is more likely than the others to be acquired outside of a hospital, often by penetrating an open wound or other skin infection. VRE infection can cause complicated abdominal infections, skin infections, urinary tract infections (UTIs) and infections of the blood stream. PSAE is a frequent cause of pneumonia, UTIs and bloodstream infections. Infections caused by these agents can be life threatening, but usually do not cause problems in healthy people.

The investigators also tested the effectiveness of disinfectants commonly used in hospitals known as "quaternary ammonium compounds' to clean the computers. The most effective disinfectant was one in which the solution remains on the cleaned surface for 10 minutes before it is wiped off. Another, with a recommend exposure to the surface of five minutes effectively disinfected keyboards, but not keyboard covers.

"While it's important to disinfect computer equipment on a regular basis, especially in a healthcare environment, the most important disease prevention strategy is to wash your hands prior to patient contact," Noskin told the Sun-Times.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Northwestern Memorial Hospital. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Northwestern Memorial Hospital. "Northwestern Memorial Study Finds That Computer Keyboards May Harbor Harmful Bacteria." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 18 April 2005. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/04/050418094918.htm>.
Northwestern Memorial Hospital. (2005, April 18). Northwestern Memorial Study Finds That Computer Keyboards May Harbor Harmful Bacteria. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 6, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/04/050418094918.htm
Northwestern Memorial Hospital. "Northwestern Memorial Study Finds That Computer Keyboards May Harbor Harmful Bacteria." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/04/050418094918.htm (accessed March 6, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Friday, March 6, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Praying Mantis Looks Long Before It Leaps

Praying Mantis Looks Long Before It Leaps

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Mar. 5, 2015) Slowed-down footage of the leaps of praying mantises show the insect&apos;s extraordinary precision, say researchers. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Octopus Grabs Camera and Turns It Around On Photographer

Octopus Grabs Camera and Turns It Around On Photographer

Buzz60 (Mar. 5, 2015) A photographer got the shot of a lifetime, or rather an octopus did, when it grabbed the camera and turned it around to take an amazing picture of the photographer. Jen Markham (@jenmarkham) has the story. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ringling Bros. Eliminating Elephant Acts

Ringling Bros. Eliminating Elephant Acts

AP (Mar. 5, 2015) The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus is ending its iconic elephant acts. The circus&apos; parent company, Feld Entertainment, told the AP exclusively that the acts will be phased out by 2018 over growing public concern about the animals. (March 5) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Tourists Visit Rare Grey Whales in Mexico

Raw: Tourists Visit Rare Grey Whales in Mexico

AP (Mar. 4, 2015) Once nearly extinct, grey whales now migrate in their thousands to Mexico&apos;s Vizcaino reserve in Baja California, in search of warmer waters to mate and give birth. Tourists flock to the reserve to see the whales, measuring up to 49 feet long. (March 4) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins