November 21st, 2014
An amazing array of bacteria are living on your smartphone at this very moment. They had some help getting there – you. You who puts your phone next to your dinner plate. You who takes a call as you walk out of the bathroom. You who keeps the phone in random pockets or at the bottom of your purse. The average and intimate way people handle their smart phones has helped make these beloved devices the club med for exotic bacteria.
What kind of bacteria you may wonder? The list includes those known to cause pneumonia, meningitis and gonorrhea. The all-star cast was revealed by the Earth Microbiome Project, which analyzed swabs from smartphones and shoes to examine what bacteria can be found on them. The good news – though some of this might sound gross, there were no pathogens – no extremely hazardous – bugs to be found. A clear difference was also found between what is found on the bottom of shoes and what is found on a smart phone – thankfully. Researchers pointed to the fact that most of the microbes found on phones are directly related to what is commonly found on unclean hands. In either case, they refer to the positive fact that, based on their tests, “good” bacteria clearly out number “bad bacteria”.
The real question that this research leads to relates to the idea of being able to deduce ailments by analyzing what bacteria you’ve got on you and where each one came from. This microbial history is known as each person’s microbiome, a profile that many hope will be an easily detectable and useful tool in the future of medicine and science.
Photo: kallao / flickr