based evidence concludes that computer keyboards and other input devices spread
infections in healthcare settings, schools and in communal environments.
According to The Centers for
Disease Control and Prevention, Hospital-acquired infections (HAIs) are a
leading cause of death in the U.S. healthcare arena, with an overall estimated
annual incidence of 1.7 million cases and 100,000 deaths. HAIs in U.S.
hospitals generate an estimated $28.4 billion to $45 billion in excess
healthcare costs annually. Furthermore, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid
Services will no longer provide reimbursement over and above the typical
Inpatient Prospective Payment System rate for care required to battle HAIs.
The research abstracts below
strongly support that computer keyboards and other input devices are a source
of bacteria and cross-contamination that can lead to HAIs. Therefore, washable
keyboards, mice, TV remotes and mobile products with antimicrobial product
protection should be put in place along with proper disinfection protocols to
reduce the risk of infections and cross-contamination.
of North Carolina Research Study (Keyboards in Hospital Settings)
published in Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology, comes from William
Rutala, PhD, MPH, and colleagues at the University of North Carolina (UNC) at
Chapel Hill. Researchers took samples from 25 computer keyboards at various
locations inside UNC Hospitals and tested the samples for bacterial
contamination. They found that each keyboard was contaminated with at least two
types of bacteria. In particular, every keyboard tested positive for
coagulase-negative staphylococci or CoNS, which is a major cause of bloodstream
infections in hospitalized patients. In addition, 13 other types of bacteria
were found, with the most common, after CoNS, being diphtheroids (found on 20
computers, or 80 percent), Micrococcus species (72 percent) and Bacillus
species (64 percent). Data suggest that microbial contamination of keyboards is
prevalent and that keyboards may be successfully decontaminated with
disinfectants. Keyboards should be disinfected daily or when visibly soiled or
if they become contaminated with blood.
of hospital keyboards harbor the Super Bug- MRSA, but daily disinfecting of the
keyboards could reduce the risk of cross contamination.
of Arizona Research Study (Keyboards in Educational Settings)
Microbiology Professor / leading expert on infectious disease, Dr. Charles Gerba conducted a study that found computer keyboards harbor up to 400 times more microbial bacteria than the average toilet seats and our among the dirtiest items in an office. In one study, Dr. Gerba and his team separated office workers into two groups. One group used disinfecting wipes to clean their desks, phones, and computers once a day while the other did not. Within two days, the wipes users were found to have a 99.9% reduction in bacteria levels Other research data from this study concluded the following:
schools, the most germ-laden places are desktops; computer keyboards, mice, and
touchpads; pencil sharpeners, water fountains and restrooms.
- Of the professions studied, school teachers had the most germs in their offices by 20 times.
- More germs were found in daycare centers than anywhere else
- Proper cleaning techniques can reduce bacteria by up to 99.9 percent and absenteeism in schools by 50 percent.
Society for Microbiology Research Study (Keyboards in Hospital Settings)
that MRSA can survive on computer keyboards for up to 6 weeks. For the study,
two strains of MRSA were inoculated in triplicate onto coupons made of bed
linen, keyboard covers and acrylic fingernails. At selected times over 8 weeks,
the coupons were subcultured and surviving bacteria were counted. MRSA
survivors remained at detectable levels for 6 weeks on computer keyboard
covers. The results clearly demonstrate the need for frequent hand washing and
environmental disinfection in health care settings.
for Professionals in Infection Control – APIC (Guide to Preventing C. Diff
prevention strategies include “cleaning and disinfection of computers,
including keyboards” and goes on to say “check the computer manufacturer’s
recommendations for acceptable products. Exposure to an environment or patient
with CDI can create a challenge especially when there is a highly virulent
strain. The use of some of the bleach-containing disinfectants may not be
possible due to potential damage.”
American Journal of Infection
Control – AJIC Report (Keyboards in Hospital Settings) Recommendations
for cleaning and disinfection: Computer equipment used in patient care within a
multihospital system. Ensure that working with computer equipment is included
in policies/procedures for hand hygiene. Specifically, when working with
keyboards or mice in high-risk areas disinfect and glove hands.
Memorial Research Study (Keyboards in Hospital Settings)
obtained from the keyboards and keyboard covers revealed growth of MRSA and VRE
at 24hrs. Transmission studies revealed that increased contact with the
inoculated keyboards (from 1 to 5 touches) increased recovery of bacteria on
hands. The transmissibility rate from keyboard covers was not appreciably
different. VRE and MRSA are capable of prolonged survival on both computer
keyboards and keyboard covers. After any contact with computer keyboards, both
gloved and ungloved hands frequently become contaminated. Researchers found
that a good way to prevent the transmission of this type of infection is for
health care workers to wash their hands and to have computer keyboards disinfected
on a regular basis.
Ford Hospital Research Study (Keyboards in Hospital Settings)
non-treatment areas, nearly 32 percent were contaminated, versus less than nine
percent in treatment areas. Ten keyboards, or less than 14 percent of the
total, were colonized with as many as nine different bacteria. Due to the
threat of the germs’ potential spread to patients, Henry Ford’s Information
Technology and Infection Control department recommended exchanging traditional
keyboards in the ER for washable, silicone rubber models.
Army Medical Center Research Study (Keyboards in Hospital Settings)
10 computer keyboards in the intensive-care unit eight times over two months.
About 25 percent of the samples harbored the bacteria hospital officials fear
most – multidrug-resistant staphylococcus aurous.
of Columbia Department of Health – DCDOH Report (Keyboards in School Settings)
The DCDOH investigation of a Norovirus outbreak in an
Elementary School reported that non-cleaned computer equipment (keyboards and
mice) and person-to-person contact resulted in illness. Laboratory results from
a computer mouse and keyboard in first-grade classroom tested positive for
norovirus subtype GII. DCDOH recommended cleaning computer equipment (mice and
keyboards) and other shared surfaces that were overlooked during the February 8
cleaning with a 1:50 concentration household bleach solution.
University Research Study (Cell Phones/Touch Screens)
A cell phone
is covered with 18 times more bacteria than a toilet handle. Stanford doctoral
student Tim Julian warns, “If you put virus on a surface, like an iPhone, about
30 percent of it will get on your fingertips, and a fair amount of it may go
from your fingers to your eyes, mouth or nose, the most likely routes of
of Arizona Research Report (Touch Screens in Hospital Settings)
Professor / leading expert on infectious disease, Dr. Charles Gerba recently
reported that “We looked at touch screens in hospitals recently and found them
to be heavily contaminated with organisms such as MRSA”. He went on to report
“You might wipe them down quickly but I don’t think they get thoroughly
decontaminated in anyway”.
of Arizona Research Study (TV Remotes in Hospital Settings)
Microbiology Professor /
leading expert on infectious disease, Dr. Charles ranks the TV remote control
as the highest carrier of bacteria in a patient’s hospital room compared to the
toilet bowl handle, bathroom door and call buttons, among others. Even more
disturbing is the detection of Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus
(MRSA) on the remote control. As an antibiotic-resistant bacteria, a leading
cause of infection and death in hospitals.
of Houston Research Study (TV Remote in Hotel Rooms)
of Houston, along with researchers from Purdue University and the University of
South Carolina sampled a variety of surfaces from hotel rooms in Texas, Indiana
and South Carolina found high levels of aerobic bacteria and coliform (fecal)
bacterial contamination on TV remotes. Tests showed bacteria levels between 2
and 10 times higher than levels permissible in hospitals.
School of Medicine at Dartmouth (Keyboards in Educational Setting)
the fall term of 2008 quite a number of students (estimated around 200-300) had
contracted a pink-eye infection. According to Pete Fletcher (IT Department for
the Medical School at Dartmouth College), among other ways the pink-eye
infection was spreading, was through contact with public keyboards. It was
found that people were rubbing their eyes and then using the keyboards. This
enabled the pink-eye infection to spread. The school first opted to replace
keyboards and disinfect machines. However, the cost of replacing keyboards was
cost prohibitive. After researching solutions, Seal Shield washable keyboards
were installed. Since putting Seal Shield keyboards in place, the number of
replacement keyboards was almost zero. There have been no reported cases of
pink-eye. Because the keyboards are run through a dishwasher at the end of each
term, students and staff are much happier at the cleaner look.
Swinburne University of Technology,
Australia Research Study (Keyboards in University Settings) The
keyboards of multiple-user (student) and single-user (staff) computers located
on a university campus were sampled to assess microbial contamination. The
average number of microorganisms present on multiple-user computer keyboards
was significantly greater than on single-user keyboards, and the number of
keyboards harboring potential pathogens was also greater for multiple-user
computers. It is recommended that regular cleaning and disinfection of
computers be used to reduce the microbial load, especially for multiple-user
of the 21st Century in Calgary Research Study (Keyboards in Hospital Settings)
investigation into the extent of contamination of computer keyboards in
hospitals has shown that 58% are contaminated with harmful bacteria. The study,
conducted under the direction of Dr. John Conly at the Ward of the 21st Century
in Calgary, sampled 230 keyboards across 3 different ward types in 4 separate
hospitals. “People are going from a patient from wound care and then they have
to enter information into the computer. They can carry the germs from that
procedure onto the keyboard,” says Conly. Having a keyboard that is easily
cleaned and effectively decontaminated is a valuable first step toward a healthier
environment for patient care.
Shield™ is the infection prevention specialist. Seal Shield’s unique
combination of patent pending infection control waterproof keyboards, mice, TV
remotes and iPad shields, along with its antimicrobial product protection,
combine to create the most complete infection control solutions available. For
more information please visit sealshield.com
or call 877-325-7443.