Salt Lake City (ABC 4 News) "What we found in two of the phones we tested was Pseudomonas aeruginosa." Those were some of the first words we heard from Study Director Jonathan Swenson - when we had cell phones tested for bacteria at Nelson Laboratories in Salt Lake.
But let's back up a bit and start at the beginning. A few weeks ago Swenson gave us a five minute lesson on how to test for germs and bacteria with surface samplers. So, armed with a supply of the samplers we set out to test phones. The first person I ran into, Hasty Nazarinia, a University of Utah student, allowed me to test her phone. I asked, "Do you think we will find anything - germs, bacteria, e-coli?" Hasty answered, "I don't know about that. But probably stuff from the ear. Ear wax or little particles. I don't know."
We then repeated the simple germ gathering test several times and with several people. Veterinarian Josh Davis was one test subject. "This guy (referring to his cell phone) goes with me to work - and I work with dogs and cats a lot, so, it could be interesting. I don't know." And we caught up with Josie Marine and Joshua Perkins at another location. By the way, Perkins jokingly predicted dire consequences for his smart phone. "You're going to find something very deadly and toxic on my phone."
We then took our seven samples back to Nelson Laboratories to see what was on those phones. Fast forward 10 days and it was time for the big reveal. So, to steal a moment from "Extreme Makeover" - move that surface sampler!
Swenson told us about the the two phones with Pseudomonas aeruginosa and then said, "On one of the phones we found Staphylaccoccus Aureus." Translation - Staph. Which is bacteria that can cause a number of diseases. Staph can be found on the skin of 25 percent of healthy adults and generally its not an issue. However, staph-related illnesses happen all the time. Swenson says, "It can cause skin infections." And it gets worse. He says, "Certain Staphylaccoccus Aureus produce a toxin and that can cause food poisoning... So, if you don't wash your hands when you are preparing food - that can cause problems for whoever is eating it... You're going to be vomiting, diarrhea - your body is kind of going to shut down for 24 hours or so." And sometimes Staph can cause potentially fatal problems - especially for people in a hospital or with a compromised immune system.
The Staphylaccoccus was found on Josie's phone. And when she found out - it made her a bit sick to her stomach.
"Your reaction to hearing that?" "Horrible."
"Are you surprised?" "A little. I'm kind of grossed out, actually... I want to go home and clean my phone."
And remember that other stuff - the Pseudomonas aeruginosa? It was found on two phones - and one belongs to Joshua Perkins - the guy who made the dire prediction. While not as serious as Staph - Pseudomonas aeruginosa is an opportunistic pathogen and is a major cause of hospital acquired infections. Swenson says, "It can cause pneumonia in cystic fibrosis patients or urinary tract infections." Despite that, Joshua didn't seem too bothered.
"Does that change anything?" "Honestly, I will probably go home and clean it and then forget about it. And it will get just as bad again."
While we had a few hits for the bad stuff - including my own phone, which was the other phone with Pseudomonas aeruginosa, our cell phone targets were relatively clean. However, a recent study of 390 cell phones was much worse. 16 percent of the phones tested positive for e-coli - most likely from fecal matter. And the study showed that men's phones are worse than women's when it comes to the nasty stuff.
However, in our eight phone survey - the men actually faired fairly well. Connor Lund and Adam Wyatt thought their phones would turn up something. But they were deemed clean. And remember the veterinarian - Josh. His was clean as well.
"I thought there would be something on there - at least some basic stuff. I'm happy its not."
That's good news for Josh. But the real question is - what's on your cell phone?
For tips on cleaning your cell phone - check out this link: http://www.ehow.com/how_2067811_clean-cell-phone.html