Flesh-eating bugs lurking on ATMs and killer bacteria found on phones

Article by Eilish O'Regan from www.independent.ie - 27/02/17

Potentially lethal superbugs and faecal matter discovered on host of everyday items.

Deadly superbugs have been found on mobile phones, laptops, ATMs, floors, elevator buttons and toilet door handles.

In recent research at a third-level college, traces of MRSA were found on the hot water dispenser in a public canteen, on toilet doors, waste bin lids and on the screens and covers of mobile phones. 

Faecal matter was also found on toilet door handles, according to the study which was commissioned by antimicrobial experts Kastus.

The survey aimed to isolate and identify bacterial species present in our everyday environments.

Numerous common public areas were selected and swabbed as dozens of harmful bacteria strains were found on everyday surfaces.

The study, which was carried out over a two-week period in October 2016, also found faecal matter and other potentially harmful bacteria on elevator buttons as well as flesh-eating Listeria on ATMs and salmonella on computer keyboards.

Bill Gates warned of a global superbug pandemic. Photo: Reuters

Bill Gates warned of a global superbug pandemic. Photo: Reuters

The MRSA bacteria is harmless in itself, but it can cause life-threatening illness if it gets into the bloodstream through a cut or other incision.

Kastus has developed ground-breaking technology to prevent the spread of superbugs in healthcare and industry in the UK, the US and across the world.

Kastus chief executive John Browne said the findings of the study were absolutely shocking.

He said: "When we set out to fund this research project, we expected to see a certain level of harmful bacteria but what was actually discovered is truly shocking, but we believe this is no different to what we would find in any UK, US or Irish public building.

"These bacteria can make people very sick and can ultimately kill. Recent stories of hospital ward and hotel closures show the extent of the problem. Institutions need to be made aware of the risks associated with these bacteria and to start taking responsibility for their occupant health and wellbeing.

"The risks which superbugs present are massive. It is predicted that superbugs will kill 10 million people worldwide by 2050."

Speaking recently, Microsoft founder Bill Gates warned of a worldwide superbug pandemic. 

Mr Gates has campaigned for wealthier countries to help the Third World fight disease. 

Mr Browne said that modern environments people live in made it easier for superbugs to thrive.

He added: "Our technologies are vitally important in a world where antibiotic resistance to harmful bacteria is a threat as significant as global warming. 

"By working with manufacturers, we can start to make our indoor environments work for us by having contact surfaces kill bacteria rather than spread them.

"As humans, we create warm, humid environments for our own comfort and the increased use of smartphones and other high-touch surfaces, combined with relaxed cleaning regimes have created ideal conditions for harmful bacteria to survive and thrive. 

"Kastus will be performing further microbiological research in the coming year to include healthcare, gymnasia and hotels and hope that, by educating the public, we can ensure that important technologies like ours become a standard in making the world a safer place."