Monday, April 11, 2005

Computer keyboards are havens for some nasty superbugs that can live nestled in among the keys for at least 24 hours, a new study finds.

The study led by epidemologist Dr. Gary Noskin finds that keyboards get easily contaminated by germs.

And that's especially bad news for hospitals. There, these germs can take the form of antibiotic-resistant germs that can contaminate the hands of nurses or doctors and then are passed on to patients.
. . . .

Best defence

Given the challenge in cleaning keyboards, Noskin advises that frequent handwashing is the best defence.

For health care workers, he noted that hand washing before using a computer is "superfluous," as "contamination can be transmitted from the keyboard to the hands of health-care workers.''

"So the best intervention would be to wash your hands (after using a computer) before you have direct contact with a patient,'' he tells The Canadian Press from Los Angeles, where he's presenting his findings at the annual meeting of the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America.

For the study, 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.

VRE can cause urinary tract infections and infections at the entry sites of intravenous or dialysis lines.

Pseudomonas aeruginosa, meanwhile, can cause pneumonia, urinary tract and bloodstream infections. The study found that this bacteria can last up to an hour on keyboard surfaces.

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.

Sounds like it is time for someone to invent some sort of disposable keyboard, or keyboard cover....
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