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Open Access Research article

Methicillin-resistant staphylococcal contamination of cellular phones of personnel in a veterinary teaching hospital

Timothy Julian1, Ameet Singh2*, Joyce Rousseau1 and J Scott Weese1

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Pathobiology, Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph, Guelph, ON, N1G 2W1, Canada

2 Department of Clinical Studies, Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph, Guelph, ON, N1G 2W1, Canada

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BMC Research Notes 2012, 5:193  doi:10.1186/1756-0500-5-193

Published: 25 April 2012

Abstract

Background

Hospital-associated infections are an increasing cause of morbidity and mortality in veterinary patients. With the emergence of multi-drug resistant bacteria, these infections can be particularly difficult to eradicate. Sources of hospital-associated infections can include the patients own flora, medical staff and inanimate hospital objects. Cellular phones are becoming an invaluable feature of communication within hospitals, and since they are frequently handled by healthcare personnel, there may be a potential for contamination with various pathogens. The objective of this study was to determine the prevalence of contamination of cellular phones (hospital issued and personal) carried by personnel at the Ontario Veterinary College Health Sciences Centre with methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus pseudintermedius (MRSP) and methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA).

Results

MRSP was isolated from 1.6% (2/123) and MRSA was isolated from 0.8% (1/123) of cellular phones. Only 21.9% (27/123) of participants in the study indicated that they routinely cleaned their cellular phone.

Conclusions

Cellular phones in a veterinary teaching hospital can harbour MRSP and MRSA, two opportunistic pathogens of significant concern. While the contamination rate was low, cellular phones could represent a potential source for infection of patients as well as infection of veterinary personnel and other people that might have contact with them. Regardless of the low incidence of contamination of cellular phones found in this study, a disinfection protocol for hospital-issued and personal cellular phones used in veterinary teaching hospitals should be in place to reduce the potential of cross-contamination.

Keywords:
Cellular phone; Methicillin-resistant staphylococcus; Veterinary; Contamination