Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Cell Phones, Germs and Nonsense

Scientific American reports a study from Turkey published in the American Journal of Infection Control found that about 1/3 of cell phones carried by patients and 20% cell phones carried by hospital staff were harboring pathogenic bacteria. Conspicuously absent from the report is any evidence that bacteria found on cell phones actually caused any illness among the patients.

This goes along with other such hysterical reports demonstrating that neckties, lab coats, scrub suits, money, computer keyboards and television remote controls have been found to be similarly colonized with bacteria without evidence of transmission of disease. Of course, lack of evidence of disease transmission did not stop some legislators in New York from considering a proposal to prohibit doctors from wearing ties.

I have no doubt that old-fashioned land-line hospital telephones are colonized with bacteria too.

Having been the prisoner of a telephone for over 40 years in the practice of surgery, I would welcome a ban on its use. Maybe we could use smoke signals but that would probably generate protests by Native Americans and environmentalists.

What many people apparently do not understand is that there is a difference between colonization by bacteria and invasion by bacteria. I suppose I risk causing nationwide panic by saying this but YOUR SKIN IS COLONIZED BY PATHOGENIC BACTERIA!!!!!! AND SO IS YOUR INTESTINE!

I look forward to future papers documenting bacterial colonization of doorknobs, pens, eyeglasses, air, water and fire.

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