Worse than Viruses

Public computer surfaces are reservoirs for methicillin-resistant staphylococci.

The role of computer keyboards used by students of a metropolitan
university as reservoirs of antibiotic-resistant staphylococci was
determined. Putative methicillin (oxacillin)-resistant staphylococci
isolates were identified from keyboard swabs following a combination of
biochemical and genetic analyses. Of 24 keyboards surveyed, 17 were
contaminated with staphylococci that grew in the presence of oxacillin
(2 mg l-1). Methicillin (oxacillin)-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), –S. epidermidis (MRSE) and –S. hominis
(MRSH) were present on two, five and two keyboards, respectively, while
all three staphylococci co-contaminated one keyboard. Furthermore,
these were found to be part of a greater community of
oxacillin-resistant bacteria. Combined with the broad user base common
to public computers, the presence of antibiotic-resistant staphylococci
on keyboard surfaces might impact the transmission and prevalence of
pathogens throughout the community.

Thanks to Monique van Hoek for the pointer.


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