Researchers found that as many as one in six mobile phones were contaminated with faecal bacteria due to poor hygiene while 16% were contaminated with E. coli, most likely caused when people fail to wash their hands properly after going to the toilet.
The British research led by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, studied samples from the mobile phones of 390 people in 12 cities across the UK.
They found that one in six handsets were riddled with germs, bacteria and up to 1,000 types of microbe.
Mobile phones more likely to contain the nasty, and contagious, E.coli bug the further north they lived, like in Glasgow. The lower levels of bacteria in handsets were found in Brighton.
A quarter of phones investigated contained Staphylococcus aureus bacteria, which is found naturally in the nose, mouth and skin, but this can develop into the dangerous superbug MRSA over time.
E.coli (or Escherichia coli) is a common cause of food poisoning, severe stomach and gastro-intestinal problems, and affects around 17 million people a year in the UK.
The researchers from the study urge people to wash their hands thoroughly after using the toilet, as the bacteria originated from faeces and survive on hands and surfaces for hours – and easily get transferred onto your mobile phone through touch.
“This study provides more evidence that some people still don’t wash their hands properly, especially after going to the toilet,” say Dr Val Curtis, from the study.
“I hope the thought of having E.coli on their hands and phones encourages them to take more care in the bathroom – washing your hands with soap is such a simple thing to do but there is no doubt it saves lives.”