Fungal contamination of mobile phones of medical students from University of Belgrade, Serbia: a cross-sectional study

In our study, fungal contamination of students’ mobile phones was found in 32.11%, while 67.89% were negative for fungal contamination. In the study by Corley et al., who looked at cultivable microbial diversity on cellphone fungi found in 29%10. Similar results were reported from a study from Japan with a contamination of 31.7%.14A Nigerian study revealed that 30.6% of college students’ mobile phones were contaminated15th. On the other hand, some studies reported a much higher mobile phone contamination rate for medical students at 92%, but that was mostly due to bacterial contamination.7.

Based on our findings, the male students often had their cell phones contaminated with the fungus. Similar results were reported by a study from India that showed a higher rate of mobile phone pollution in males compared to females16. This can be attributed to better awareness of hand hygiene practices among female students compared to males16.

In this study, students with fungal contamination of their cell phones were much less likely to clean their phones compared to students negative for fungal contamination of cell phones. According to our results, lack of mobile phone cleaning was independently associated with fungal contamination of students’ mobile phones. Sailo and his colleagues found that cell phones that were never cleaned contained more microorganisms16. In a study from Saudi Arabia, 44.9% of people never cleaned their phones17Whereas in an Indian study, up to 97% of people do not routinely clean their cell phones7.

In our study, the majority of medical students clean their cell phones with alcohol, and a similar case was reported in a study by Perez-Cano where the most common cleaning methods were alcohol-based solutions.18. This is consistent with an Italian study where 38% of healthcare workers reported cleaning their cell phones occasionally with alcohol solutions after work activity.12. Smbert et al. found a zero percent contamination rate for departmental computer keyboards indicating that routine daily cleaning of a mobile phone may be sufficient to reduce device contamination with MDR-organisms19. This is consistent with the findings that cleaning cell phones with an antibacterial solution can significantly reduce contamination with microorganisms.20. In this study, no significant association was found between fungal contamination and the method of cleaning mobile devices.

Our results indicate that the use of mobile phones near patient beds in hospital wards is an independent risk factor for fungal contamination. Moreover, in our study, students with fungal contamination often carried their phones in their pockets at university. This is consistent with the findings that 88.4% of the participants kept their mobile phones in their pockets12. Zakai et al. found that all medical students use their mobile phones at work21. Constant handling of mobile phones near patients’ beds is confirmed by a study where 76% of healthcare workers used mobile phones while caring for patients.7. The use of mobile phones while caring for patients has significant health implications as microorganisms can be transmitted from patients to the mobile phones of healthcare workers and increase the risk of infection between them and their family members.7. Furthermore, 38% of cell phones altered the bacterial colonization of at least one microorganism by comparing swab results at the beginning and end of the work shift.12. However, proper hand washing and sanitization after caring for each patient is practiced by only 30% of health care workers7While some studies indicate that 60% do not wash their hands after using their cell phones12.

According to the results of the current study, students with fungal contamination of their cell phones often keep cell phones in random places in the house. Some studies have found a higher number of microorganisms on cell phones that were carried inside toilets16. This is consistent with findings that found a significant association between pollution level, use of mobile phones in toilets, and sharing17. Galazzi et al. did not find. Any difference in the colonization of cell phones by where the phones were kept but more importantly how the cell phone is handled from where it is kept.12. While the mobile phone itself provides a warm environment suitable for the growth of microorganisms, dark places such as pockets and handbags along with the long hours spent with cell phones can contribute to the growth of microorganisms due to constant handling22.

In our study, students with fungal contamination of their cell phones often view cell phones as a reservoir of infection. It has been proven that many microorganisms including viruses live on non-living surfaces for a long time23. The majority of microorganisms found on mobile phones are a transient group10, but different microorganisms can colonize inanimate and inert substrates by forming biofilms. The environment in which an individual lives and works may also influence the microbial diversity of mobile phones10. However, there is no evidence of a direct relationship between environmental pathogens on mobile phones and the rate of hospital-acquired infections24.

According to our results, the most common fungal isolates on students’ mobile phones were Candida albicansfollowed by Aspergillus Niger. Similar results were reported by Kurli et al. , who isolated the 20 genera of the most common fungi Candida Prosecution.Aspergillus fungus Prosecution.Aureobasidium spp. And the occult Prosecution.10. Fungal contamination of mobile phones has been reported in several studies25And the2627. In our study, the majority of fungal species belong to opportunistic pathogens, but we also found strictly pathogenic dermatophytes. Trichophyton rubrum The leading agent in the treatment of tinea pedis and onychomycosis worldwide and in our region28. Many isolated fungi are opportunistic pathogens and can colonize the skin and mucous membranes of humans29. Candida Prosecution. It is a typical symbiont of human skin and part of the normal skin microorganisms, but it can form biofilms on implanted devices, grow in total parenteral nutrition, and cause hospital outbreaks.30. of particular concern candida crusi, And the Candida glabrata that were isolated from the mobile phones of students in our study, in addition to Candida auris All of which can develop resistance to standard treatment31. cause fungal infections CandidaAnd the Aspergillus fungus Species is a growing problem worldwide, linked to very high mortality rates31. The majority of isolated non-cutaneous molds are ubiquitous microorganisms, internal and external molds, and are rarely able to cause predominantly invasive disease in immunocompromised patients. On the other hand, these fungi can present a health risk in the form of their ability to produce mycotoxins, as well as cause allergic reactions in the respiratory tract.32.

In the current study, fourth-year students’ mobile phones were significantly more contaminated with non-skin mold compared to 2second abbreviation– Mobile phones for students (Supplementary Table 1). Since the number of sophomores was very small, we cannot generalize these results.

Appropriate measures to improve hygiene practices should include educating medical students to raise awareness of hospital infection and its mode of transmission, increasing access to hand hygiene infrastructure and supplies in clinical wards, educating about the proper use of disinfection and practicing proper hand hygiene, limiting the use of mobile phones in hospital settings and introducing protocols Standard for decontamination33And the3435.

This study had some limitations. First, being a cross-sectional study, the study did not address the effect of period changes. However, the completion of this study in a short period and the unannounced microbial examination of cell phones did not affect the change in the use and cleaning habits of cell phones by the participants. Second, this was a single central study, so random error may have affected our analysis which may limit the generalizability of the results. Third, the study was not set up to report other sources of bacterial contamination. Mobile phones, especially in hospital environments, can serve as a vehicle for transmitting many disease-causing organisms including multidrug-resistant bacteria and viruses, which can be of particular importance during the current COVID-19 pandemic. However, fungi are all around us and can be the cause of various diseases, even life-threatening. These diseases are of particular interest in the high-risk group of patients with various comorbidities or risk factors for invasive fungal diseases who often require hospitalization. Fourth, the isolated fungi were not subjected to antifungal susceptibility testing, so the study could not give insight into the presence of multidrug-resistant and resistant fungi. Antifungal resistance is becoming a more common problem that can limit treatment options, especially in patients at risk for invasive fungal diseases. However, current laboratory standards for antifungal susceptibility testing are laborious, often lacking cut-off values, and require the application of molecular methods for the final confirmation of resistance. Finally, we only included fourth-year medical students in the study. In our faculty also, fifth and sixth year students train mainly in clinical wards, but they are divided into small groups of three to five students so it will be more difficult to reach them. Moreover, many of them practice in clinical hospital centers far from the medical school. Practice in clinical wards may contribute to increased contamination of students’ cell phones, especially with pathogens that can be affected by the type of clinical ward (surgery, internal medicine, etc.). On the other hand, we did not include a representative sample of students in the preclinical years (first trimester) to see if the difference in fungal contamination was related to hospital conditions.

Leave a Comment