Healthcare: On the Agenda - E. coli present on mobile devices

In a nutshell

One in six mobile phones in Britain contains traces of faecal bacterium E. coli, new research has revealed. To coincide with Global Handwashing Day on 15 October, a UK-wide study by the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and Queen Mary, University of London also found a tendency among Britons to lie about their hygiene habits.

Why is this important?

E. coli (Escherichia coli) has been implicated in serious food poisoning cases. Researchers suggest the most likely reason for the bacteria festering on gadgets is people failing to wash their hands with soap after going to the toilet.

The findings

Although 95 per cent of people said they washed their hands with soap where possible, 92 per cent of phones and 82 per cent of hands had bacteria on them. The largest proportion of contaminated phones was in Birmingham (41 per cent) while Londoners had the highest E. coli levels present on hands (28 per cent).

PR strategy

PR was carried out by the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine press office in collaboration with the Global Handwashing Day organisers, the Queen Mary press office and Initial Washroom Solutions, which was supported by Publicasity.

Coverage highlights

The study was covered extensively in the UK media. In print, coverage highlights included The Guardian, Metro and The Daily Telegraph. The story also featured on the BBC website and BBC Radio 5 Live.

28% - Total of tested Londoners with E. coli on their hands

92% - Proportion of phones with bacteria on them.

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