Shared computer keyboards spreading infections

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Shared computer keyboards can be breeding grounds for bacteria, revealed by researchers. As the popularity of internet cafes and multi-user computer facilities increases, computer keyboards may be become one of the sources of transferring germs of infectious diseases.

The new study was conducted by researchers from Swinburne’s Environment and Biotechnology Centre, Australia.

Researchers investigated the number and type of microorganisms on the keyboards of computers located in three large, multiple-user facilities on the university campus — Swinburne University of Technology.

These were compared with staff computers that were generally handled by only one person.

Researchers found almost five times the number of microorganisms on the keyboards of multiple user computers as on single-user computers. Almost half the multiple-user keyboards were found to harbour Staphylococcus aureus, also known as golden staph, compared with one-fifth of the single user keyboards.

“High use, multiple user internet cafes and computer labs are potential hot spots for harbouring microorganisms,” said Associate Professor Enzo Palombo, one of the study’s authors. “Given that computers are not routinely disinfected, the potential for transmitting disease is great. Organisations need to be more rigorous in keeping shared equipment clean.

Keyboards and other hand contact areas such as a computer mouse should be regularly cleaned and disinfected, especially for multiple-user workstations. A follow up study to examine the effect of routine cleaning of keyboards in the university’s multi-user computer labs is planned.

The study will be published in the July issue of the American Journal of Infection Control.

Source: Swinburne University of Technology, Australia

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