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Is your cell phone making you sick?

January 02, 2014
 

 Contact:  

 Michelle Holmgren, Public Affairs & Community Relations Specialist

 (Office)  413-967-2296             (Cell) 413-237-6743

 michelle.holmgren@baystatehealth.org

 

Ware, MA (January 2, 2014) – With the flu season underway, most of us work hard at figuring out how to avoid getting sick.  

“While it’s important to consider the standbys including washing our hands, avoiding close contact with others who are ill, and getting the flu shot,” said Cerie Moon, RN, BS, Infection Prevention and Control Practitioner at Baystate Mary Lane Hospital. “When was the last time you cleaned your phone?”

“We take our cell phones everywhere; to work, lunch, the grocery store, and the gym,” said Moon noting that colds and flu are caused by viruses, which can easily pass from person to person, or from infected person to surfaces to another person. 

“When we get home we set our phone down on the dinner table, the kitchen counter and it often lands on our night stand at the end of the day when we go to sleep,” said Moon.  “The problem with our smartphones is that we're in constant contact with them, and they spend a lot of time in close proximity to our faces and mouth.  Because it's an electronic device, most people are hesitant to clean them,” notes Moon, “but viruses are known to live on inanimate objects.”

 

“Studies have found colonies of streptococcus, staphylococcus and diphtheroids on people's cell phones,” said Moon.  But there are things you can do to minimize the spread of bacteria or virus from your phone offering the following tips:

  • Do not share cell phones with others. Wash your hands before handling your phone if you have to share it with someone. 
  • Use a hands-free set, ear piece or speaker phone instead to minimize your keypad-to-face exposure.
  • Use a plastic film to cover for the surface of your phone that you can discard and replace to minimize the infectious potential of your phone’s surface.
  • Clean your phone with sanitizing wipes sold specifically for electronic devices.
  • Don’t spray your phone with household chemicals and disinfectants, they are too harsh for most phones and will damage them.  If you must, use a wrung-out disinfectant wipe or spray a paper towel with disinfectant. 

 

 “Remember that anything that is touched often like computer keyboards, doorknobs and the pens that are given to you when you sign for a credit card purchase are also surfaces that have great potential to harbor germs and viruses,” said Moon. “This winter season, do the basics, eat right, get adequate sleep, exercise, and wash your hands.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that keeping your hands clean is one of the greatest ways to avoid getting sick and spreading germs!”   For more information about flu basics visit the CDC website at http://www.cdc.gov/flu/

 
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