D Tagoe, F Kumi – Ansah
antibiotics, café, contamination, keyboard, mice, office
D Tagoe, F Kumi – Ansah. Computer Keyboard and Mice: Potential Sources of Disease Transmission and Infections. The Internet Journal of Public Health. 2010 Volume 1 Number 2.
Computers just like microbes are ubiquitous and continue to have an increased presence in everyday lives. The aim of this study was to investigate and compare the level, types and antibiotic susceptibility of bacterial contaminants of keyboards and mice in general offices and internet cafés. A total of 100 samples were collected by swabbing the surfaces of keyboards and mice. Serial dilution and aerobic colony counting was performed by pour plating on PCA (Plate Count Agar) for each sample. Isolates were identified by standard biochemical methods whilst the disc diffusion technique was applied in Antibiotic Susceptibility Testing of each bacterial isolate. All surfaces of keyboard and mice were contaminated (>105) with means of 5.664×108 and 1.305×107 CFU for office keyboard and mice respectively and 1.52×109 and 1.901×107 CFU for café keyboard and mice respectively. There was a 48.02% contamination difference between office and cafés which was significant; keyboards (
Computers just like microbes are ubiquitous and they continue to have an increased presence in almost every aspect of our occupational, recreational, and residential environments.1 The oldest and the most widely accepted keyboard layout is the “QWERTY keyboard” with the random distribution of characters requiring more finger movement on the keyboard.2 An internet café is a place which provides internet access to the public usually for a fee. This business usually provides snacks and drinks hence the “Café” in the name.3 In places where there are a lot of people moving in and out, such as offices and internet cafés, there is likely to be a good number of people sick, and through them comes new bacteria that will eventually settle on the keyboard through air or from physical contact.4 Automated teller machine (ATM) keyboards were found to have more germs than a public restroom door.5 One study in a hospital setting reported that microbial contamination of computer interface surfaces was so prevalent that various microorganisms were isolated from more than 50% of the keyboards of the hospital computers.6 These fomites may be additional reservoirs for the transmission of microorganisms and become vectors for cross-transmission.7 The contribution of hands contaminated with pathogenic microorganisms to the spread of infectious diseases has been recognized for many years.8 The prevalence of bacterial infections in humans is increasing and has been shown to result in part from the hospital setting to the community and vice versa.9-10 It has been realized that one main cause of bacterial contamination of computer keyboards and mice in non-hospital setting is through eating while working with the computer in the office or browsing the internet with the computer. As a result some food crumbs and spills can wind up on and between the keyboard keys and on the mouse buttons.11 Given that computers are not routinely disinfected, the opportunity for the transmission of contaminating microorganism is potentially great.12 Thus this research seeks to investigate into what kinds of microorganisms especially bacteria that actually contaminate keyboards and mice in offices and internet cafés in the University of Cape Coast community, Cape Coast, Ghana.
Materials and Methods
Laboratory Methods and Procedures
All laboratory work was undertaken in the Laboratories of the Department of Laboratory Technology of the University of Cape Coast, Cape Coast, Ghana.
A simple random technique was used to sample 100 keyboard and mice from offices and internet cafés by swabbing their surfaces. All samples were contaminated with bacteria showing greater than 105 (>105) CFU by aerobic counting technique. Internet Cafés had higher counts than offices which were significant (
Computers continue to have an increased presence in almost every aspect of our occupational, recreational, and residential environments1 whilst the contribution of hands contaminated with pathogenic and non-pathogenic microorganisms to the spread of infectious disease has been recognized for many years.12,6 Results from the study shows high levels of contamination of these surfaces with the least mean bacterial count of 5.66×108 CFU. This confirms work by11 who found between 99%-100% contamination on computer keyboard and mice in a research centre. Depending on environmental conditions, pathogens may remain infectious on surfaces for weeks after the contamination event. In humid conditions, pathogens may actively colonize surfaces, transforming a passive reservoir into an active one. Furthermore, formation of biofilm by one bacterial agent can affect the survival of other pathogens on the same surface.13 In general, the greater the concentration of the microbe, the longer it survives and survival can range from minutes to months. The longer the survival of a bacterium on a surface like the keyboard or mouse, then the odds of that bacterium being picked up by someone becomes considerably increased.14-15 Contamination of these surfaces are aided by personal hygiene and lifestyle of users of these equipments. Thus keyboard and mice in internet cafés were more contaminated than that of offices which was significant (
Susceptibility of isolates ranges from a least of 25% to a high of 50% indicating that most of the antibiotics used were ineffective.
Surfaces of keyboard and mice in any environment can be a potential source of transmission of pathogenic organisms leading to diseases. This is more so due to the fact that these are sometimes shared facilities and can lead to community-acquired infections with possible public health implications. Further studies should sample hands of users of these keyboards and mice after to determine the level of contamination picked up from using them. Hand-washing should be encouraged
The authors express gratitude to all the Departmental offices and Internet Cafés in the University of Cape Coast and surrounding communities that consented to sampling as well as Research and Teaching Assistants at the Laboratories of the Department of Laboratory Technology, University of Cape Coast.