Web Zap*Germs Archive

April 12, 2005

Hospital Computer Keyboards Home for Superbugs

A hospital in Chicago found that computer keyboards can harbor several antibiotic-resistant bacteria, including methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus(MRSA), vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus (VRE), and Pseudomonas aeruginosa.
For the study, [epidemologist Dr. Gary] Noskin's team contaminated some keyboards with three types of bacteria commonly found in hospitals: VRE; methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus(MRSA); and Pseudomonas aeruginosa.

Both VRE and MRSA survived on a keyboard 24 hours after contamination, according to the study.

Noskin says that cleaning the keyboards with soap and water proved ineffective. A hospital-grade germicide did do the job, but regular use of these solutions could take a toll on the devices.

"One of the things we don't know is how using such a strong disinfectant would impact either the plastic or the keyboard circuitry or the electronics," he says.

"These things aren't really designed to be cleaned with a germicide on a regular basis."

You likely won't contract germs like VRE and MRSA by sharing keyboards at work or at home because these bugs generally don't exists outside of hospital settings.

But Noskin suggests frequent handwashing for everybody, since other bugs can persist on any keyboard.

(Hat tip:


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