London: They may be a necessity in today`s world, but British scientists have claimed that mobile phones could be the hotbed of germs.
A team at London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine has found in its tests that 92 per cent of mobile handsets are contaminated with bugs, including E.coli and MRSA, and some harbour 1,000 types of microbe.
Although they have found that most of the bacteria are harmless, one in six phones had E.coli, which has been linked with dozens of cases of food poisoning and one death in Europe this summer, the `Daily Mail` reported.
For their research, the scientists took samples from the mobiles and hands of 390 people in 12 cities. They found that the phones were more likely to be contaminated with E.coli the further north they went.
A quarter of phones surveyed contained the Staphylococcus aureus bacteria -- found naturally in the nose, mouth and skin -- which can mutate into hospital superbug MRSA, emphasising the need for patients and visitors to wash hands in hospitals.
Lead scientist Dr Val Curtis said: "This study provides more evidence that some people still don`t wash their hands properly, especially after going to the toilet.
"I hope the thought of having E.coli on their hands and phones encourages them to take more care in the bathroom -- washing your hands with soap is such a simple thing to do but there is no doubt it saves lives."
The research found that those who had bacteria on their hands were three times more likely to have it on their phone too. The results showed 92 per cent of phones and 82 per cent of hands had bacteria on them.
Dr Ron Cutler, of Queen Mary, University of London said: "While some cities did much better than others, the fact that E. coli was present on phones and hands in every location shows this is a nationwide problem. People may claim they wash their hands regularly but the science shows otherwise."